Be Grill-Safe This Memorial Day!

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Labor Day is almost here and while it may signal the end of the summer season, the long weekend is the perfect time to bust out your grills and spend some time with your family. Here are some handy tips to make sure your end of summer grill out doesn’t turn into a safely hazard.



1. Keep your grill at least 10 feet away from your house. Farther is even better. This includes portions attached to your house like carports, garages and porches. Grills should not be used underneath wooden overhangs either, as the fire could flare up into the structure above. This applies to both charcoal and gas grills.

2. Clean your grill regularly. If you allow grease and fat to build up on your grill, they provide more fuel for a fire. Grease is a major source of flare ups.

3. Check for gas leaks. You can make sure no gas is leaking from your gas grill by making a solution of half liquid dish soap and half water and rubbing it on the hoses and connections. Then, turn the gas on (with the grill lid open.) If the soap forms large bubbles, that’s a sign that the hoses have tiny holes or that the connections are not tight enough.

4. Keep decorations away from your grillDecorations like hanging baskets, pillows and umbrellas look pretty AND provide fuel for a fire. To make matters worse, today’s decor is mostly made of artificial fibers that burn fast and hot, making this tip even more important.

5. Keep a spray bottle of water handy. That way, if you have a minor flare-up you can spray it with the water to instantly calm it. The bonus of this tip is that water won’t harm your food, so dinner won’t be ruined!

6. Keep a fire extinguisher within a couple steps of your grill. And KNOW HOW TO USE IT. If you are unsure how to use the extinguisher, don’t waste time fiddling with it before calling 911. Firefighters say many fire deaths occur when people try to fight a fire themselves instead of calling for expert help and letting the fire department do its job.


7. Turn on the gas while your grill lid is closed. NEVER do this. It causes gas to build up inside your grill, and when you do light it and open it, a fireball can explode in your face.

8. Leave a grill unattended. Fires double in size every minute. Plan ahead so that all of your other food prep chores are done and you can focus on grilling.

9. Overload your grill with food. This applies especially fatty meats. The basic reason for this tip is that if too much fat drips on the flames at once, it can cause a large flare-up that could light nearby things on fire.

10. Use a grill indoorsPeople often think it will be safe to use a grill, especially a small one, indoors. NOT TRUE. In addition to the fire hazard, grills release carbon monoxide, the deadly colorless, odorless gas. That gas needs to vent in fresh air or it can kill you, your family and pets.

Stay safe out there!

If it’s been more than three years since you’ve done a
Cost and Coverage Comparison
on your home policy it may be time.


Earthquakes – Preparing for Disaster

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The 1811–12 New Madrid earthquakes were an intense intraplate earthquake series felt over roughly 130,000 square miles. They began with an initial earthquake of moment magnitude 7.5–7.9 on December 16, 1811 which was followed by a moment magnitude 7.4  aftershock on the same day. They remain the most powerful earthquakes to hit the contiguous United States east of the Rocky Mountains in recorded history.


Less severe earthquakes in this region have happened periodically ever since. Even though the U.S. Geological Survey’s annual earthquake forecast in 2017 pinpoints Oklahoma and central California’s coast as highest risks for damaging shaking, it makes perfect sense to be prepared for an earthquake or any other natural or man-made disaster.

FEMA Earthquake Map

Recent Quakes
2016 New Madrid Earthquakes

5/1/16 –  3.514km NNW of La Center, Kentucky  Magnitude 5

4/2/16 –  52km N of Blytheville, Arkansas  Magnitude 2.5

3/20/16 –  69km SW of Caruthersville, Missouri  Magnitude 2.6

3/1/16 –  519km ENE of Hardy, Arkansas  Magnitude 2.5

1/29/16 –  510km E of Malden, Missouri  Magnitude 2.5

1/15/16 –  53km SSW of Caruthersville, Missouri  Magnitude 2.5


It’s important to have a plan for when disaster strikes. Here at Meramec Valley insurance, we want to help you ensure that your family and your home are safe even through the worst. Check back with us next week as we go over key questions you should be asking about your preparedness for a disaster.

For more information on why insuring your home is the safest call, click here: FEMA – Insure your property

Be safe out there!


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Power Strips Advice

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Power strips are not typically designed to have high amperage items like hair dryers and space heaters plugged into them.  This is what could happen and if you are asleep or away from home, you could lose your home, your life; you could lose everything. Don’t take chances!

Be safe out there!


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Back to School

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Back To School

It’s Back to School Time!

Watch for all the little ones walking and biking to school as well as all those new bus-riding kids getting on and off the buses.

Be Patient.

Be Safe.



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Save Money on Air Conditioning

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Here are seven easy things you can do to save money on air conditioning / electrical costs:

  1. Replace filters every three months. Clean filters reduce fan pressure, requiring less energy.
  2. Make sure the area around the unit is free of grass clippings, leaves, and other debris.
  3. Operate with  fan switch on “auto”, instead of the ‘on’ position so that the fan runs only when the compressor runs.
  4. A  programmable thermostat set slightly higher during off-hours can save up to 10% in cooling costs a year.
  5. Draw shades, hopefully insulated shades, especially on the southern facing windows to minimize the amount of hot sunlight entering the room.
  6. Use efficient lighting such as LED lights that do not give off excessive heat.
  7. Ceiling fans can reduce the need for AC, resulting in a potential 15 percent savings.

An annual inspection by a licensed technician can further reduce your risk of lost business, repair and energy costs. A technician will:

  1. Check electrical connections for looseness, and signs of moisture, damage or corrosion.
  2. Recommend a power protection device to protect the unit from brownouts, power surges or lightning.
  3. Check lubricating oil in the compressor’s crankcase heater.
  4. Check that the condenser is clean and surrounding area is free of vegetation, trash and stored materials. A dirty unit can increase power consumption by 10%.
  5. Keep surfaces of the cooling coils clean with filters.
  6. Check for proper refrigerant levels.


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Weather Information

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Severe Thunderstorm Watch – Conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. A severe thunderstorm contains large damaging hail of 1 inch diameter or larger, and/or damaging winds greater than 58 mph

Severe Thunderstorm Warning – A severe thunderstorm is indicated by Doppler weather radar or sighted by Skywarn spotters or other persons, such as local law enforcement. A severe thunderstorm contains large damaging hail of 1 inch in diameter or larger and/or damaging winds of 58 mph or greater.

Significant Weather Advisory – A strong thunderstorm is indicated by Doppler weather radar, containing small hail below 1 inch diameter, and/or strong winds of 39–57 miles per hour

Tornado Watch ― A tornado watch is issued when weather conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms that are capable of producing tornadoes. A tornado watch therefore implies that it is also a severe thunderstorm watch.

Tornado Warning ― A tornado warning is an alert issued by national weather forecasting agencies to warn the public that severe thunderstorms with tornadoes are imminent or occurring. The issuance of a tornado warning indicates that residents should take immediate safety precautions.

Flash Flood Watch – Conditions are favorable for flash flooding in and close to the watch area. These watches are issued by the Weather Forecast Office and are usually issued six to 24 hours in advance of expected flood potential.

Flash Flood WarningFlash flooding is occurring, imminent, or highly likely. A flash flood is a flood that occurs within six hours of excessive rainfall and that poses a threat to life and/or property. Ice jams and dam failures can also cause flash floods. These warnings are issued on a county by county basis by the local Weather Forecast Office and are generally in effect for two to six hours, although particularly during tropical cyclones a warning may last for a longer period of time, and occasionally last shorter than two hours


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Poison Prevention Week – The Third Week of March

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More than two million potential poison exposures are reported every year to American poison control centers. More than 90% of these poisoning occur in the home, and a majority of these occur with children 5 years of age and younger.

Though calls regarding children still make up more than half of all calls to poison control centers, they only account for a small percent of the deaths due to poisoning. Poisoning of adults is on the rise in our nation and only stands behind motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of unintentional injury deaths.

Over 1000 Americans die from poisoning every year.

You can help prevent poisoning. Here’s a few ways:

  • Keep medicines and household products in their original containers in a different place than food.
  • Always read product labels and follow any directions.
  • Keep household products and medicines locked up. Put them where kids can’t see them or reach them.
  • Buy products with child-resistant packaging. But remember, nothing is child-proof.
  • Never call medicine “candy.” Poisons may look like food or drink. Teach children to ask an adult before tasting anything.
  • Learn about products and drugs that young people use to get “high.” Talk to your teen or pre-teen about these dangers.
  • Have a working carbon monoxide alarm in your home.

If you think someone has been poisoned, you should call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 right away. Serious poisonings don’t always have early signs.


Be safe out there!


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The Difference Between Life and Death

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Metal whistle isolated on white

If you’re hiking or camping with children, put a whistle around their necks. Make them wear it all the time. Train them to use it if they get lost or separated from you. It’s louder than yelling and they can keep whistling as long as they’re breathing.

This could mean the difference between life and death.

Be safe out there!


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It’s Never Too Soon To Get Prepared

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Notepad with disaster plan on a wooden table.

Whether it’s hurricanes, earthquakes, are other widespread disasters, it’s never too soon to get prepared, but it will…. sooner or later… be too late.

“It’s critically important that individuals and individual families understand what they have to do, from their point of view,” said Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director for the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University. “Preparedness should be something we all do naturally. It’s very similar to when we get into a car. We put on a seatbelt automatically and we know we’re prepared in terms of not going thorugh the windshield if there’s a collision. We have health insurance and life insurance and homeowner’s insurance, all which are there just in case we need those things.”

Full Story Here:

Be safe out there!


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Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week – January 25-29

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The Internal Revenue Service has acknowledged that it has paid out $5.8 billion in fraudulently filed income tax returns? January 25-29 is Tax Identity Theft Awareness Week.

Tax-related identity theft occurs when someone uses your stolen Social Security number (SSN) to file a tax return claiming a fraudulent refund. You may be unaware that this has happened until you e-file your return and discover that a return already has been filed using your SSN. Or, the IRS may send you a letter saying it has identified a suspicious return using your SSN.

See this document from the IRS for more information:

Be safe out there!


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