Stay a step ahead — Preventing slips and falls at your business

Slip and fall accidents rank in the top five causes of injury in any season, and they are prevalent during the winter months because of wet or icy floors. Here’s how you can help prevent these types of accidents in the workplace for visitors and employees.

Keep it dry 
Black ice is barely visible to a person’s eye but can form in minutes and makes walking or driving dangerous. These conditions are preventable, so take the following measures:
  • Keep a dry mop near employee and visitor entrances. 
  • Clean, mop, and dry floors continually. 
  • Place non-slip absorbent mats at entrances. 

Clear away snow and ice 
Eliminating slippery surfaces can significantly reduce injuries, so be sure to:
  • Keep adequate supplies of snow and ice removal tools in readily accessible areas. 
  • Shovel and salt as often as necessary to keep walkways clean and dry. 
  • Watch for areas where ice tends to form and remove ice accumulations promptly. 
  • Before cold weather arrives, verify your contract with a snow removal company to keep your parking lots clear of snow and ice. Confirm they are ready to provide service. 
  • Limit walking to designated walkways as much as possible, and discourage taking shortcuts over snow piles and in areas where snow and ice removal is not feasible. 
  • Place quality, beveled edge mats in walking areas subject to water or snow accumulation. Change mats regularly to ensure those in place are dry and serviceable. 
  • Apply a slip-resistant floor treatment in shop areas. 
  • Check which ice or snow-melting chemicals are appropriate for the temperature and surfaces where they will be used, and keep a Material Safety Data Sheet on site in case of an emergency. 
  • Assign hourly checks of walkways. 

Emphasize attentive work habits 
Even when a safe environment is provided, workers need to follow guidelines and take personal responsibility to reduce winter slips and falls:
  • Wear shoes or boots specifically designed to provide traction on wet, slippery surfaces. 
  • Take short steps to maintain your center of balance. 
  • Walk slowly and never run on snow or ice-covered surfaces. 
  • When entering and/or exiting vehicles, use the vehicle for support using three points of contact at all times. 
  • When entering a building, remove snow and water from footwear, which can create wet, slippery conditions indoors.

Yes Virginia, those decorations are dangerous

Part of what makes the holidays special are all the decorations and treats we indulge in this time of year. But some of those holiday traditions can be risky for kids and pets. Here are some watch-out areas:
  • Heavy weighted stocking hangers (the kind you set on top of a mantle) may be pulled down, causing a concussion or broken toes. 
  • Christmas trees are an attractive climbing gym for cats. Make sure it’s well anchored so it can’t tip. 
  • Classic ball ornaments may look like toys to dogs and kids alike, but they’ll shatter into dangerous shards if thrown or bitten. 
  • Shiny, dangling tinsel is an alluring plaything to cats. But if kitty ingests some, the stringy material may get tangled in her digestive tract. 
  • Seasonal plants like holly, mistletoe, and cyclamen can cause vomiting and diarrhea in pets. What’s more, lilies are highly toxic to cats and can produce kidney failure, even in small doses.
  • Candles represent a clear fire hazard, particularly when curious kids or animals are nearby. Fake “flameless” versions provide safer ambience. 
  • You’re probably already aware that chocolate is toxic to dogs, but did you know that even small amounts of xylitol will trigger seizures or liver failure in your pup? Xylitol is commonly found in sugar-free gum and breath mints as well as diabetic-friendly baked goods. 
Other common holiday dangers: toothpicks in your hors d’oeuvres, chewed holiday light strands, and button batteries, which can burn holes in a child’s or pet’s digestive tract.

Decorate with your kids and furry friends in mind. And be sure to supervise curious pets during holiday parties, lest they drag something hazardous out of the garbage or a visitor’s purse! Take a few simple precautions and ensure this is a season of good cheer.

Cyber Monday internet safety tips

If you’re shopping for gifts online this holiday season, beware of fraud. The risk is significant, especially if you’re shopping under a time crunch and trying to take advantage of special deals. As one member of the SECURA team reports, not all retailers are what they seem:

“I clicked on a Facebook ad for a camping product. The website said they were a startup South Dakota company, so I thought I was supporting a U.S.-based small business. When the product arrived though, it had clearly been shipped from China, and it didn’t work as advertised.

“I emailed customer service (no phone number) and was told I could return the product for a refund. So, I paid to ship it back to their South Dakota address. That’s when customer service stopped answering my emails. I had to report the situation to my credit card to get money back.”

If you’re not shopping with a known retailer, take these steps to protect yourself:
  • Search [website name] + complaints online and scan any results. 
  • Look for a “Contact Us” phone number and try to call. If no one answers during regular business hours, that might be a red flag. 
  • Enter the domain name into the ICANN WhoIs lookup and see if the information (such as country or year established) matches up. 
  • Make sure the purchase page is Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) secured, to protect your credit card information. SSL pages begin with “https” instead of “http.” Or look for a lock icon appearing next to the URL. 

“I think I got lucky that my credit card information wasn’t stolen,” says our team member. “In the end, I was only out the return shipping fee, plus a lot of time and hassle.”

Annual campaign raises more than $21,000 for breast cancer research and awareness

We couldn’t do it without you — our agents, associates, policyholders, and fans. Thanks to your support throughout our eighth annual One by One campaign, we raised $21,384 for National Breast Cancer Research Foundation (NBCF). That means an eight-year total of more than $172,000 given to the cause.

We’re recognizing the loved ones of our agents and community members with the donation to NBCF — see a list of those we honored.

Many of our agents also posted pink photos on Facebook in October to spread awareness. You can see many of them by searching #SECURAOnebyOne when logged into Facebook.

Thank you for helping us make a difference in the battle against breast cancer!

Is your Thanksgiving table a danger zone?

We've all likely experienced that post-Thanksgiving dinner fatigue. Thanks tryptophan! Perhaps it resulted in you being a little slow to clean up after the feast. Or maybe you like to leave the buffet available for guests to pick at throughout the afternoon.

Should you care if your leftovers sit out? Here’s some advice from the experts:

The USDA has identified a “Danger Zone” between 40° – 140° F. At that temperature, they say, bacteria can grow rapidly. So the basic kitchen rule here is “Keep it cold or keep it hot.”

The USDA advises that cooked food must be refrigerated within two hours after you remove it from the heat source. (That window shrinks to just one hour if you’re celebrating Thanksgiving where the temperature tops 90°.) Same goes for cold food. It should be kept at 40° or below or refrigerated after two hours.

When you want to party all night…
So what’s a host to do when planning an open house buffet? Borrow some extra slow cookers, or look for disposable chafing dishes and fuel canisters at discount or party-goods stores. For cold food, you can nest dishes in bowls of ice or keep your serving sizes small and replenish often.

As for that giant turkey you bought, counting on leftovers, slice off the portion you plan to serve and put the rest in the fridge to chill. Portion food into small containers so it can cool down quickly. If you’re worried about hot food affecting the quality of other items in your fridge, use an ice bath to chill things first.

Fact: Reheating food that sat out too long does not make it safe to eat. Sure you’ll kill the bacteria, but you can’t kill the toxins those bacteria released.