Space Heaters: How to Stay Warm AND Safe

It’s getting colder in Maine. With today’s high fuel prices, many of us try to delay turning on the heat as long as possible. For some people, that means using a space heater to “take the chill off”. As with any appliance, it’s important to know the associated hazards and best practices for avoiding them.

Fires and Burns

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that space heaters are involved more than 25,000 home fires every year, causing more than 300 deaths.The SPSC estimates that another 6000 people, many of them children, visit emergency rooms for burns from touching hot surfaces.

  • Check the wires, fuel lines and tanks often to make sure they’re in good condition.
  • Keep combustibles at least 3 feet away from space heaters.
  • Leave your space heater on the floor, unless it’s designed otherwise.
  • If you smell gas, turn off all controls, open a window, and leave the area.
  • Propane is heavier than air. Avoid electrical switches or appliances if you smell gas. And, of course, no smoking!
  • Do not use electric space heaters in wet areas, such as the bathroom.
  • Keep children and animals away from space heaters.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

CO is an odorless, colorless gas produced by incomplete combustion of gasoline, natural gas, propane, kerosene, coal or wood. Symptoms of CO poisoning include:

  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness

Prolonged exposure can cause lack of coordination, confusion, loss of consciousness, and even death.

Modern space heaters (made after 1983) have sensors that automatically shut off the appliance if a reduced level of oxygen is detected. In addition, your best protection is a good, working CO detector.

If you have property in Maine, and have questions about home, renters or condominium insurance, our Portland area insurance agency can help. We’re locally owned, and represent many of  Maine’s best insurance companies. That means we can provide you with customized choices.  Contact a Noyes Hall & Allen agent for answers!

Here’s to a mild – and safe – heating season!

Should You List Jewelry on Your Homeowners Policy?

That was the most common question at Saturday’s Jewelry Checkup Event that we hosted along with Days Jewelers.

Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Jewelry?

In short: yes, but…

  • Theft of jewelry is limited, usually to $1,500 or less.
  • Your property deductible applies, usually at least $500, often more.
  • Personal property is only covered for 16 “named perils” on the average homeowners policy. For example, ‘theft” is covered, but “losing” something is not. The 16 perils are fine for things like TVs and clothing, but not jewelry. Perils, like losing a gemstone aren’t covered.

5 Reasons to List Your Jewelry on Your Homeowners Policy

  • The value is agreed to before a loss. Instead of having to prove the worth of your jewelry after it’s gone, you list each item with a detailed description and set a value on each piece. Items over $5,000 usually require a professional appraisal every 5 years.
  • Broader coverage. Theft is covered; so is loss of a gemstone – even loss of an earring that’s discovered after you return from a night on the town, or an engagement ring lost at the beach.
  • No deductible applies. You can save money on homeowners insurance by increasing deductibles without having to worry about paying for a lost earring or a missing gemstone.
  • Preservation of limits for your other property. Unless it’s listed, your jewelry falls under your “personal property” limit, which is a percentage of your home’s building insurance limit. If you have a lot of expensive jewelry, even if it’s damaged by a covered peril like fire, you may not have enough “personal property insurance” to replace both your jewelry and your other belongings. Listing your jewelry separately saves that other insurance for your belongings.
  • It’s affordable. Separately listing $5,000 of jewelry usually costs less than $40 a year.

Insurance companies call listing items such as jewelry, furs or fine arts separately on your homeowners policy “scheduling”.

Does your policy declarations page say “Scheduled Personal Property”?

If not, you may want to call your Maine insurance agency to add it.

If you are a Noyes Hall & Allen client, and want to add jewelry, you can request it here, or call the office at 207-799-5541.

If you  are not yet a client, live in Southern Maine and have questions about homeowners,  insuring an engagement ring, renters insurance or condo insurance, call Noyes Hall & Allen agent at 207-799-5541. We’re happy to help.