Business Owners- How to Keep Your Employees and Customers Safe During the Holiday Rush

Thanksgiving is next week, which means time with family and friends, good food and reflecting on the things in your life for which you are grateful.  Thanksgiving week also marks the beginning of something else- holiday shopping season.  The day after Thanksgiving, aka “Black Friday” for shoppers means lining up for hours before the store opens to buy those presents on everyone’s wish list for the best price possible.  But what if you are the business owner?  How do you manage crowd control to keep your employees and customers safe?

Crowd-related injuries during special retail sales and promotional events have increased during recent years as certain products have become more popular and as people have tightened their budgets. In 2008, a retail worker in New York was trampled by customers and died at the opening of a “Black Friday” (the day after Thanksgiving) sale.

OSHA requires that employers provide employees with a safe and healthy workplace. As a result, OSHA encourages employers to adopt effective safety and health management tools to identify and eliminate work-related hazards, including those caused by large masses of people during busy shopping times such as the holiday season.

The following guidelines are designed to help your workers in avoiding injuries during a busy shopping season or other crowded event. Much like other preventive methods, crowd management planning should begin well in advance of the event or season.

If your facility anticipates a large crowd, consider the following planning guidelines well in advance of the event:

  • Where large crowds are expected, hire trained security and crowd management personnel or police officers to be on-site.
  • Create a detailed staffing plan that designates a location for each employee. Based on the size of the crowd expected, determine the number of employees that are needed at designated locations. These locations may include the entrance(s), the dressing rooms, near “hot” merchandise, etc.
  • Ensure that employees are properly trained to manage the event.
  • Contact your local fire and police agencies to determine if the event site meets all public safety requirements. Also ensure that all permits and licenses are obtained, and that local emergency personnel are aware that the event is occurring.
  • Designate an employee to contact your local emergency personnel in the event that your event becomes unruly.
  • Provide legible and visible signage that provides entrance locations, store opening times and other pertinent information for customers.
  • Prepare an emergency plan that addresses potential dangers facing employees, including overcrowding, crowd crushing, being stuck within a crowd, violence and fires. Share the emergency plan with your local public safety agencies.
  • Train all employees on your established crowd management procedures. Provide them with an opportunity to practice the special events plan well ahead of time. Consider also including your localpublic safety agencies, if necessary.
  • Keep first aid kits and Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) available, and have personnel trained in using AEDs and CPR.

holiday present

Pre-Event Setup Preparations

  • Set up barricades or rope lines for crowd management well in advance of customer arrival. Ensure that the barricade lines do not start right at the entrance of the store, as this will allow for orderly crowd management entry and make it possible to divide crowds into small groups.
  • Ensure that barricade lines have an adequate number of breaks and turns at regular intervals to reduce the risk of customers pushing from the rear and possibly crushing others. This is a danger to your customers and employees alike.
  • Designate employees to explain approach and entrance procedures to your arriving customers. Employees should also direct them to lines or entrances.
  • Assure that employees working outside have radios or some other way of communicating with employees working inside. They should also have a way to communicate with emergency personnel, if needed.
  • Consider using mechanisms, such as numbered wristbands or tickets, for early arriving customers so there is no fighting about a spot in line.
  • Consider using an Internet lottery for “hot” items to avoid a huge rush.
  • Place shopping carts and other potential obstacles or projectiles inside the store and away from the entrance. Do not keep these items in the parking lot.
  • Provide additional public amenities, such as toilets, sinks, etc., if necessary
  • Communicate updated information to customers waiting in line and distribute pamphlets showing the locations of entrances, exits and special sale items.
  • Remind waiting crowds to remain calm shortly before opening your doors.

holiday tree

During Your Sales Event

  • Make sure all employees and crowd control personnel are aware that the doors are about to open before they do.
  • Staff entrances with uniform guards, your local police or other hired authority personnel.
  • Use a public address system or bullhorns to manage the entering crowd and to communicate information or problems.
  • Position security or crowd managers to the sides of entering/exiting public.
  • Provide crowd and entry management personnel at all entrances, including the ones that are not being used. Provide more than one entrance/exit, if possible.
  • When your location reaches maximum capacity, do not allow additional customers to enter until the occupancy level decreases.
  • Provide a safe entrance for those with disabilities and those pushing small children in strollers.
  • In an emergency situation, instruct your staff to remain calm, and to slowly escort customers out the door. Also remind employees to follow the instructions of emergency personnel and first responders to reduce the risk of injuries to themselves and customers.

Source: OSHA


AssureSouth will be at the Charlotte Vetran Job Fair TODAY


Ben Taylor, CEO of AssureSouth and Assure Alliance and Ralph LaSpina will be at the Charlotte Veteran Job Fair today- November 21, 2013.

The job fair is located at The Charlotte Motor Speedway- 5555 Concord Parkway South-Charlotte, NC 28027.  It will be held from 11am to 3pm.

There will be 31 exhibitors at the fair today as well as 705 veterans and 363 soldiers.

Check out the video below as America Now features RecruitMilitary Mike Roillins, VP of Sales discussing the challenges of veterans leaving the military seeking civilian employment

Distracted Driving: Not Just For Young Drivers Anymore- According to New Study

cell phone driver man

According to an article just released on a new study has found some disturbing statistics- more OLDER drivers are engaging in dangerous driving activities such as cell phone use, texting while driving and internet use.

According to the article, “the July 2013, survey of nearly 1,000 motorists shows a significant increase in the percentage of drivers who own smart phones, particularly among drivers age 30 and older. Additionally, the percentage of drivers who access the internet on their phone while driving has nearly doubled over the past five years, going up from 13 percent in 2009 to 24 percent in 2013.”

The increase in distracted driving is significant over all age groups; the article also give these statistics-
“Ages 18-29: 78% in 2011 to 86% in 2013
Ages 30-39: 60% in 2011 to 86% in 2013
Ages 40-49: 47% in 2011 to 82% in 2013
Ages 50-64: 44% in 2011 to 64% in 2013
Ages 65+: 23% in 2011 to 39% in 2013”

Click here to read the full article

According to research done by the University of Utah, using a handheld or hands free mobile device slows a driver’s reactions as much as someone with a blood alcohol content of .08, the legal limit in all U.S. states. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2011, 3,331 people were killed in crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 3,267 in 2010. An additional, 387,000 people were injured in motor vehicle crashes involving a distracted driver, compared to 416,000 injured in 2010. Using mobile devices to call, text or email is a leading cause of distracted driving and one of the most preventable.

blurry road

While there is little that you can do to control other people’s driving, there is plenty that you can do to reduce the distractions in your own vehicle. To minimize risks while driving:

  • Do not talk on your cell phone or use the text messaging feature. If you absolutely must conduct a conversation, do so using a hands-free device and speed dial.
  • Never touch up your makeup or hair in the rearview mirror. You’ll look the same once you get to your destination as you do while your foot is on the gas.
  • Limit your conversations with passengers and ask them to keep their voices down so you can concentrate.
  • Do not smoke while you are driving, as you will probably pay more attention to not burning yourself, putting out the cigarette or inhaling than driving safely.
  • Only adjust the radio or CD player when you are completely stopped.
  • Never allow animals to sit on your lap while driving.
  • Do not eat or drink while driving.
  • Avoid reading maps or directions. Instead, pull into a parking lot to get your bearings and determine where you need to go next to reach your final destination.
  • Do not take notes or search for phone numbers.
  • Never use a cell phone (even with a hands-free device) in bad weather, work zones or heavy traffic.

Staying Safe with Space Heaters

space heater

As the temperatures drop many people use space heaters as a form of supplemental heat during the cold months.  However, according to the National Fire Protection Association, supplemental heating equipment, such as space heaters, is the leading cause of home fires from December through February, and the second-leading cause of home fires year-round. If you plan on using a space heaters this winter here are a few tips to help you stay safe AND warm.

  • Do not use space heaters to warm bedding, thaw pipes or dry clothing. Misusing a space heater can increase fire and burn risks, and put you and your family in danger.
  • Select space heaters with the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) safety mark. The UL mark signifies that the product was tested for potential safety hazards. Also, purchase units with automatic shut-off features and heating element guards.
  • Keep any items that could potentially be a source of fire at least 3 feet away from a space heater. This includes clothing, drapes and bedding.
  • Turn off space heaters when you leave the room or go to sleep.
  • Supervise children and pets around space heaters to prevent burns.  Check for frayed insulation, broken wires and overheating on electrical space heaters. If you notice any of these problems, have the unit serviced immediately
  • Use only fuel recommended by the manufacturer for liquid-fueled space heaters. The wrong fuel could burn hotter than the equipment can handle and could cause a fire. Also, turn off the heater and let it cool before refueling
  • Avoid using extension cords with space heaters. If you must do so, make sure that the cord is the right gauge size and type for the heater.


greenville ice skating 

You can count on us for all your home matters, including Homeowners and Renters Insurance. Contact us for more information on our affordable coverage options.Give us a call at 864-582-5481, visit our website, like us on Facebook, or Follow us on Twitter!

Brrr, It’s Cold! Is Your Home Prepared for Winter Weather?

Winter Weather Home Prepardedness

Temperatures this week in Upstate, South Carolina have dropped into the 20’s at night and we’ve even heard reports of snow flurries in the area. It may shape up to be a very cold winter; is your home prepared for the falling temperatures? Read more to find out how to keep safe and warm this winter.

While the amount of danger from winter weather varies across the country, nearly all Americans, regardless of where they live, are likely to face some type of severe winter weather at some point in their lives. A primary concern is that winter storms can knock out heat, power and communications services to your home or office, sometimes for days at a time. Heavy snowfall and extreme cold can immobilize an entire region.

The National Weather Service refers to winter storms as “deceptive killers” because most deaths are indirectly related to the storm. People die in traffic accidents on icy roads and of hypothermia from prolonged exposure to cold. Because of this, it is important to be prepared for winter weather before it strikes.

Know the Terms 

  • Freezing rain – Rain that freezes when it hits the ground, creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet – Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Winter weather advisory – Winter weather conditions are expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous. When caution is used, these situations should not be life-threatening.
  • Winter storm watch – A winter storm is possible in your area. Tune in to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio, commercial radio or local television for more information.
  • Winter storm warning – A winter storm is occurring or will soon occur in your area.
  • Blizzard warning – Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.
  • Frost/freeze warning – Below-freezing temperatures are expected.

Before Winter Storms and Extreme Cold add these supplies to your emergency kit:

      • Rock salt or more environmentally safe products to melt ice on walkways
      • Sand to improve traction
      • Snow shovels and other snow removal equipment
      • Sufficient heating fuel
        • You may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Store a good supply of dry, seasoned wood for your fireplace or wood-burning stove.
      • Adequate clothing and blankets to keep you warm
      • Make a family communications plan. Your family may not be together when disaster strikes, so it is important to know how you will contact one another, how you will get back together and what you will do in case of an emergency.
      • Listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or other local news channels for critical information from the National Weather Service (NWS). Be alert to changing weather conditions.
      • Minimize travel. If travel is necessary, keep a disaster supply kit in your vehicle.

Visit the Environmental Protection Agency website for a complete list of recommended products

Winterize Your Home

  • Winterize your house, barn, shed or any other structure that may provide shelter for your family, neighbors, livestock or equipment. Clear rain gutters, repair roof leaks and cut away tree branches that could fall on a house or other structure during a storm.
  • Extend your fuel supply by insulating walls and attics, caulking and weather-stripping doors and windows and installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic.
  • Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
  • Insulate pipes with insulation or newspapers and plastic and allow faucets to drip a little during cold weather to avoid freezing. Running water, even at a trickle, helps prevent pipes from freezing.
  • All fuel-burning equipment should be vented to the outside and kept clear.
  • Keep fire extinguishers on hand, and make sure everyone in your house knows how to use them. House fires pose an additional risk, as more people turn to alternate heating sources without taking the necessary safety precautions.
  • Learn how to shut off water valves (in case a pipe bursts).
  • Insulate your home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
  • Hire a contractor to check the structural ability of the roof to sustain unusually heavy weight from the accumulation of snow or water, if drains on flat roofs do not work.

snowball lady


During Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

  • Stay indoors during the storm.
  • Walk carefully on snowy, icy walkways.
  • Avoid overexertion when shoveling snow. Overexertion can bring on a heart attack—a major cause of death in the winter. If you must shovel snow, stretch before going outside.
  • Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses all of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly.
  • Watch for signs of frostbite. These include loss of feeling and white or pale appearance in extremities such as fingers, toes, ear lobes and the tip of the nose. If you or a loved one shows symptoms, get medical help immediately.
  • Watch for signs of hypothermia. These include uncontrollable shivering, memory loss, disorientation, incoherence, slurred speech, drowsiness and apparent exhaustion. If you or a loved one has symptoms of hypothermia, get the victim to a warm location, remove wet clothing, warm the center of the body first and give warm, non-alcoholic beverages if the victim is conscious. Get medical help as soon as possible.
  • Drive only if it is absolutely necessary. If you must drive, travel in the day; don’t travel alone; keep others informed of your schedule; stay on main roads; and avoid back road shortcuts.
  • Let someone know your destination, your route and when you expect to arrive. If your car gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.
  • If the pipes freeze, remove any insulation or layers of newspapers and wrap the pipes in rags. Completely open all faucets and pour hot water over the pipes, starting where they were most exposed to the cold (or where the cold was most likely to penetrate).
  • Maintain ventilation when using kerosene heaters to avoid build-up of toxic fumes. Refuel kerosene heaters outside and keep them at least 3 feet from flammable objects.
  • Conserve fuel, if necessary, by keeping your residence cooler than normal. Temporarily close off heat to some rooms.
  • If you will be going away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.


After Winter Storms and Extreme Cold

Go to a designated public shelter if your home loses power or heat during periods of extreme cold. Text SHELTER + your ZIP code to 43362 (4FEMA) to find the nearest shelter in your area (example: shelter 12345).

Continue to protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia by wearing warm, loose-fitting, lightweight clothing in several layers. Stay indoors, if possible.

In addition to insuring your home, AssureSouth is committed to helping you and your loved ones stay safe when disaster strikes. If you would like more information on developing a family emergency plan or building a disaster supply kit, please contact us at 864-582-5481 or today.


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Who Needs an Umbrella Liability Policy? You do!

family walking in leaves

Contrary to popular belief, Umbrella Liability policies are not just for the wealthy. At AssureSouth, we recommend that everyone should consider carrying an umbrella policy.

Engaging in everyday activities can put you at risk for a lawsuit.

Simple things like having a teenage driver, a swimming pool or entertaining guests in your home increase your chance that someone will get injured and sue you. To minimize your risk, consider a personal umbrella liability policy.

If you are found to be legally responsible for injuring someone or damaging their property, without a personal umbrella liability insurance policy, anything beyond the limits of your standard liability insurance coverage will come out of your own pocket. Standard liability insurance generally includes homeowners, renters, auto and watercraft policies.

Like an umbrella that protects you from the rain, a personal Umbrella Liability policy provides an extra layer of insurance coverage over your standard liability policies. It protects your personal assets by kicking in when your standard liability coverage is exhausted.

Family standing in front of house

How Much Coverage Do I Need?

You’ll want to take into consideration not only your total personal assets but also your potential personal risks. For example, do you operate a business in your home and have employees and clients to your home on a regular basis? Does your profession or location of your home make you an easy target for a big settlement? Determine your personal risks to evaluate the amount of additional liability coverage that makes the most sense for you. When considering the value of the umbrella policy, discuss your personal needs with AssureSouth.

How Much Does Coverage Cost?

Additional liability insurance is inexpensive when compared to the added coverage you gain. Don’t wait for a rainy day to find out you need the additional protection a personal Umbrella Liability policy can provide. Call AssureSouth today at 864-582-5481 to discuss your unique needs and learn about all of our liability insurance solutions.


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