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October 12, 2023

Prevent cooking fires, protect your home


Cooking fires are the No. 1 cause of home fires.

So do right in your kitchen and protect your home.

Cooking safety tips:

  • Once you start cooking, keep your eyes on the sizzle. Inattention can lead to flames you don’t want.
  • Try not to leave the kitchen while cooking — and never ditch a hot stovetop. If you stray from your oven, set a timer so you’re back before dinner chars.
  • If children are afoot, keep them 3 feet away from your cooking zone, indoors or out. Enforce the zone for your pets too.

Get more tips in our cooking safety podcast featuring Kelly Ransdell of the National Fire Protection Association. The association marks National Fire Prevention Week each October.

Learn more

August 16, 2023

Hurricanes predicted? We have tips to prepare.


Hurricane map

Texas has been hit by more than 25 major hurricanes
over the years (NOAA illustration).

Click on image to enlarge

Texas and the U.S. could be in for another busy hurricane season.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted that 14 to 21 named storms would develop over the Atlantic Ocean during hurricane season, which runs from June through November. The agency said there could be six to 11 hurricanes including two to five major hurricanes.

Colorado State University experts forecast 18 named storms this year with seven becoming hurricanes, including three major hurricanes. They also warned there’s a 67% chance that a named storm impacts Texas.

The good news is that Texans have time to prepare.

Some tips:

  • Consider buying flood insurance. Flood damage isn’t covered by your home insurance. Don’t wait too long: It typically takes 30 days for flood policies to take effect.
  • Write a family disaster plan. Start on the website
  • Decide where and how far you’ll go if you evacuate.
  • Build a “go-kit” with food, medicine, clothes, pet food, and other vital supplies.
  • Make a room-by-room home inventory. This could help later if you file a claim.

Learn more

Plan to be safe before a hurricane hits Texas

Hurricane season: How to prepare your home and property

Flood insurance: Why you need a policy

Before the storm

July 11, 2023

Home insurance might cover dog bite costs


Silhouette of dog biting a person

A dog bite bites—with about one in five dog bites requiring medical attention.

If your dog bites someone on your property, your homeowners insurance might help.


  • Some policies exclude certain breeds. To be sure, check your policy or call your insurance company.
  • Medical payments coverage in your policy pays the medical bills of people hurt on your property. It also pays for some injuries that happen away from home, like at a park.
  • You might want to buy more liability coverage through an umbrella policy. A personal liability umbrella policy helps if your home insurance doesn’t cover dog bite injuries or doesn’t pay enough. Umbrella coverage pays up to a certain amount (usually $1 million or more) for medical bills, lost wages, and lawsuits if someone sues you.

Learn more

Homeowners insurance guide

April 25, 2023

Dog burned in fire now helps state investigate fires


Harley was destined to be a K-9 arson investigator with the State Fire Marshal’s Office. When she was just 3 weeks old, a heat lamp burst in her kennel and started a fire. Harley's mother barked for help until the owners came to rescue her puppies.

The owners didn’t notice that Harley was stuck between a kennel and a fence until the fire was out. She was the only puppy hurt in the fire.

While Harley was getting treatment for her burns, the owners reached out to Tommy, a lieutenant with the Fire Marshal’s Office, about adopting the German shepherd as a family pet. His daughter and the owner’s daughter were friends.

Tommy said Harley was a handful as a puppy.

“She was like: Here, throw this toy; here, throw it again. She was always wanting to play,“ Tommy said. “She was always wanting to work.”

Harley joined Tommy’s other dog, Clear, on the family’s 165-acre ranch in Central Texas. Clear was Tommy’s K-9 partner, helping him investigate fires with the Fire Marshal’s Office. Clear’s job was to sniff out accelerants to learn what caused a fire.

As Tommy got to know Harley, he realized she had some qualities that would make her a good K-9 partner.

“When you can leave a toy in the pasture for a week, and she can go search for 15 minutes and find it, you think: Dog, you might have something here,” Tommy said.

When Harley was 2 years old, and Clear was 11 and ready to retire, Tommy proposed the idea to his captain. After a lengthy process, Harley was approved to start training in 2021. Tommy and Harley were certified as an accelerant detection K-9 team three months later.

K-9 handlers across the state have been impressed with Harley’s “nose on source” indications.

“She puts her nose on a source and lays down as flat as she can and holds still, waiting for a command to come get her toy,” said Tommy. “She really gets into her work.”

As for the kennel fire, Harley fully recovered from her burns and probably doesn’t remember it.

“She’s done with that,“ said Tommy. “She has other things to do.”

April 6, 2023

Prepare your home and family for spring Texas storms


A spring hurricane is unlikely. The latest one, Hurricane Alma, fizzled out near Cuba in May 1970.

Still, spring rains, hail, wind and even tornadoes can threaten homes, cars, and lives.

Some storm preparation tips:

  • Paul Yura of the National Weather Service suggests you keep three days of food, water and other supplies, including pet food, on hand.
  • Also, Yura says, decide well ahead of time where your family will go if dangerous weather approaches.
  • Count on weather alerts on your cell phone. But, Yura says, also keep a weather radio handy, with fresh batteries. Sometimes the phone runs out of juice.

View podcast Q&A: How to prepare for spring storms

Learn more

October 13, 2022

Fire in your house? Get out fast.


If a fire breaks out in your home, you might have just minutes to escape.

So get out.


Don’t hesitate.

Use these tips to plan how you’ll get your family and pets out safely:

  • Make a home escape plan and practice it with everyone in your home. Have someone watch the drill and time it. Practice the plan until it’s automatic for everyone.
  • Practice your escape plan twice a year. Try one practice at night, one in daylight.
  • Practice finding more than one way out.
  • Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure exit doors and windows open easily.
  • Agree on an outdoor meeting place—a tree, mailbox, light pole. Make sure everyone knows to go there.
  • Teach your children how to escape without your help. Tell them not to hide under a bed, in a closet, or in a bathroom.
  • Never go back inside a burning building. Get out and stay out!

Learn more

May 20, 2021

Start preparing now for 2021 hurricane season

Hurricane season in Texas means the potential for strong storms and flooding. The season starts on June 1, but you can start now to make sure your home and family are ready.

We talked to the Texas Department of Emergency Management to get some tips.

Gabriela Stermolle says we should put together a disaster kit with food, water, important documents, and pet supplies in case we need to leave the house fast.

We can also make our houses storm ready and think about flood insurance. But don’t wait too long: it takes 30 days for flood insurance to take effect.

Watch our interview for more tips to help you prepare for hurricane season.

Learn more about preparing and flood insurance: Before the storm.

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