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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Archived Blog Posts

Make an Escape Plan

10/11/2019 (Permalink)

A home fire is reported every 88 seconds. Once the smoke alarm sounds, a fire can spread quickly, leaving only a minute or two to escape. That's why it's so important to have a home escape plan.

Start by drawing a map for your home and following these guidelines from the NFPA:

  • Plan two ways to escape from each room
  • Make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily
  • Identify secondary routes – a window onto an adjacent roof or a collapsible ladder from upper-story windows
  • If you live in a multi-story building, plan to use the stairs – never the elevator
  • Designate an outside meeting place a safe distance from the house where everyone should meet

Check Your Smoke Alarm

10/10/2019 (Permalink)

Working Smoke Alarms Are a Must

About three out of five fire deaths happen in homes with no smoke alarms or working smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan providing early warning reducing your risk of dying in a fire. The National Fire Protection Association recommends you:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside bedrooms and outside sleeping areas on the ceiling or high on the wall
  • Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen, at least 10 feet from the stove, to reduce false alarms
  • Use special alarms with strobe lights and bed shakers for people who are hard of hearing or deaf
  • Test smoke alarms monthly
  • Replace batteries annually, and change the batteries in your carbon monoxide detector at the same time
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 or more years old

Stay Safe from Smoke and Flame: National Fire Prevention Week

10/9/2019 (Permalink)

The effective prevention and combat of fires is essential to everyone’s well-being. According to the National Fire Prevention Association, there were over 2,000 deaths from home fires in 2015. Because National Fire Prevention Week begins Oct. 8, now is the perfect time to review strategic methods of preventing fires and staying safe in case of a blaze.

Apart from carrying out basic home fireproofing actions, the most important aspect of fire prevention lies in awareness. Youngsters should be educated in smoke and fire safety, and there are plenty of resources available online to help parents build upon what’s taught in school. Many experts can attest that unless classroom lessons about fire are reinforced by parents, they tend to lose much of their effectiveness.

The same fire safety rules apply to adults in the house. Don’t leave food unwatched while cooking, and don’t use extension cords as permanent parts of your electrical setup. Keep all matches and cigarette lighters out of the reach of children. If you have any space heaters, remember to keep a clear space for three feet on all sides. Encourage all family members to sleep with their bedroom doors closed because this will tend to keep rooms smoke-free in the event of a fire.

A special note must be made about the elderly. The U.S. Fire Administration has found that seniors, while making up only 14 percent of the population as a whole, account for 38 percent of all fire-related fatalities. If you have an aged person living in your residence, see to it that he or she has eyeglasses, hearing aids and other necessary devices within arm’s reach while sleeping. Move all bulky furniture that could interfere with an escape from the building. And never leave heated blankets or other electronic equipment on for so long that it could catch fire.

Up-to-date protection devices significantly improve your likelihood of surviving a fire. Install fire alarms, smoke alarms and fire extinguishers. Consider adding a personal safety or security app to your smartphone – there are myriad options to choose from, many of which can alert proper authorities automatically during a crisis. It might also be worthwhile to purchase a sprinkler system depending on your budget. Test all alarms regularly and replace them when they’re 10 years old. There’s usually a button on alarms that can be pressed, and then the device will emit a beep if it’s functioning properly. Fire extinguishers shouldn’t be employed as a primary means of dealing with fires, and they can be tricky to operate, which is why it’s useful to read the instructions beforehand rather than waiting until a fire actually develops.

Create a family plan for fires. Identify escape routes, and ensure that there are at least two separate ways out of the house for every person. Don’t neglect pets either: A lot of time could be wasted looking for a beloved animal if you haven’t thought about your pet in advance. Designate a meeting place outside the house in the event that your family is separated. After you set up your plan, practice it regularly so that everyone is thoroughly acquainted with what to do in case of an actual crisis.

Fires claim thousands of lives per year, but the good news is that many of them can be prevented. By taking measures to reduce the chances of a fire in the first place and preparing a disaster plan now, you can keep your home and family safe for years to come.

Fire Safety

10/8/2019 (Permalink)

Fire is FAST!

In less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a major fire. #FirePreventionWeek

Fire is HOT!

If you inhale the super-hot air in a home fire, it will scorch your lungs. #FirePreventionWeek

Fire is DARK!

If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around your home. #FirePreventionWeek

Fire is DEADLY!

The odorless, colorless fumes from a home fire can lull you into a deep sleep. You may not wake up in time to escape. #FirePreventionWeek

Fire Preparedness Week

10/7/2019 (Permalink)

Not every hero wears a cape.

In a typical home fire, residents may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help them make the most of the time they have, giving everyone enough time to get out.

Prepare NOW

10/4/2019 (Permalink)

Prepare NOW

  • Know your area’s risk of hurricanes.
  • Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.
  • If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.
  • Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not subject to flooding.
  • Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place.
  • Become familiar with your evacuation zone, the evacuation route, and shelter locations.
  • Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.
  • Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.
  • Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.

Storm Surge

10/3/2019 (Permalink)

Storm Surge

Storm surge is water from the ocean that is pushed toward the shore by the force of the winds swirling around a hurricane. Storm surge is fast and can produce extreme coastal and inland flooding. When hurricanes cause storm surge, over 20 feet of water can be produced and pushed towards the shore and several miles inland destroying property and endangering lives in its path.  

Be Informed

  • Storm surge is historically the leading cause of hurricane-related deaths in the United States.

  • Water weighs about 1,700 pounds per cubic yard, so battering waves from surge can easily demolish buildings and cause massive destruction along the coast.

  • Storm surge undermines roads and foundations when it erodes material out from underneath them.

  • Just one inch of water can cause $25,000 of damage to your home. Homeowners and renter’s insurance do not typically cover flood damage.

Hurricanes

10/2/2019 (Permalink)

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30. Hurricanes:

  • Can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.
  • Can affect areas more than 100 miles inland.
  • Are most active in September.

Disasters and Emergencies

10/1/2019 (Permalink)

While flooding can happen at any time, floods can result from rain or melting snow making them common in the spring. Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Failing to evacuate flooded areas, entering flood waters, or remaining after a flood has passed can result in injury or death.

Know what disasters and hazards could affect your area, how to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate.  Make sure your family has a plan and practices it often.

Hurricane Hazards

9/30/2019 (Permalink)

While hurricanes pose the greatest threat to life and property, tropical storms and depression also can be devastating. Hazards from tropical cyclones (which include tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes) include storm surge flooding, inland flooding from heavy rains, destructive winds, tornadoes, and high surf and rip currents.

  • Extreme Winds
  • Storm Surge
  • Inland Flooding
  • Tornadoes

Extreme Winds

Winds from a hurricane can destroy buildings and manufactured homes. Signs, roofing material, and other items left outside can become flying missiles during hurricanes.

 

Storm Surge

Storm surge is the abnormal rise of water generated by a storm's winds. This hazard is historically the leading cause of hurricane related deaths in the United States. Storm surge and large battering waves can result in large loss of life and cause massive destruction along the coast.

  

Inland Flooding

Flooding from heavy rains is the second leading cause of fatalities from landfalling tropical cyclones. Widespread torrential rains associated with these storms often cause flooding hundreds of miles inland. This flooding can persist for several days after a storm has dissipated.

  

Tornadoes

Tornadoes can accompany landfalling tropical cyclones. These tornadoes typically occur in rain bands well away from the center of the storm.

 

Are You Prepared for Natural Disasters?

9/27/2019 (Permalink)

Emergency Preparedness Tips 

No one can prevent natural disasters. But you can prepare for them. Being ready for a catastrophe before it happens may help you protect yourself, your family and your home.

Create a plan with your family, figuring out what to do in the event of a disaster. Make sure everyone knows their role and the plan — then have drills, practicing so you're all comfortable with who does what. As you get started with this process, follow these emergency preparedness tips to keep yourselves safe.

Pack an emergency preparedness kit

Having an emergency preparedness kit on hand may help you keep your family safe during a disaster. Store supplies in a large waterproof container near a door or in your garage so you can grab it and find shelter quickly. Ready.gov recommends you have at least three days' worth of food, water and medications on hand. They also provide a list of items to include in your disaster kit:

  • Drinking water (at least one gallon per person per day)
  • Nonperishable food, such as canned veggies and protein bars
  • Manual can opener
  • Flashlights or portable lanterns and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • A crank- or battery-powered radio
  • Sanitation supplies: toilet paper, moist towelettes, soap, trash bags and disinfectants
  • Local maps

Depending on your situation, your kit might also include:

  • Baby food, bottles and diapers
  • Pet food
  • Prescription medications
  • Extra eyeglasses or contact lenses and solution
  • Dry clothing and blankets

Create and practice a disaster plan

Your family needs a clearly outlined plan to follow that helps keep everyone safe during a natural disaster or an evacuation. According to Ready.gov, the four primary factors that your plan should account for include:

  • Where to shelter
  • A route for evacuation
  • Getting emergency alerts and warnings
  • Family communication

As you're creating your disaster plan, keep the following preparation elements in mind:

  • Sign up for severe weather alerts in your area.
  • Program emergency numbers into your phone.
  • Decide on a meeting place for your family to gather.
  • Plan escape routes from your home and neighborhood. Remember, roads could be blocked in large-scale disasters. Have at least one alternate route — or more if possible.
  • Be sure all adult and teenage family members know how to shut off gas, electric and water lines if there's a leak or electrical short. Keep the necessary tools easily accessible, and make sure everyone knows where these are.
  • Consider learning CPR and first aid training.
  • Remember your pets. Bring dogs and cats inside during a catastrophe or make a plan for how you'll evacuate with them. Make sure they have ID tags.

Listen to local officials

Local governments have systems in place to help area residents learn about impending or occurring disasters. The timely information these entities provide can help you understand what threats are present and know when it's necessary to evacuate.

Sign up for alerts from local and national organizations to get the information you need. These may include text messages about urgent situations. You'll also see and hear written and spoken messages via cable TV and phone calls. In addition, you can tune into NOAA Weather Radio, which broadcasts weather-hazard information and safety alerts 24/7.

Remember that the groups that provide these messages are experts. Respect their warnings, and follow their guidance as closely as possible for your own safety.

Manage the details

Take note of your insurance policy numbers, and keep this information in a safe place that's easy to access. You'll want the numbers for your vehicle, home and any other relevant policies you've purchased relating to things that might get damaged during a disaster. It's also a wise idea to have your insurance company's claims department phone number on hand in case you need to start the process right away

As you're starting to prep, download your insurance company's app if it has one. These programs are convenient and let you do things like pay bills at the touch of a button. However, you can also initiate a claim and check on its status via the app. This is a convenient way to take action and move forward in the wake of a disaster.

While storing your insurance information in your phone and computer is a good start, your electronics' batteries may run down during a catastrophic event. Keep hard copies of this information in your wallet, in your glove box and even at your office or a relative's home in case you're unable to retrieve them from your own house but need to make a call.

Importance of CPR Knowledge

9/26/2019 (Permalink)

Why is CPR training important?

CPR training is important. It can save your life, your children’s lives, your parents' lives, or even a stranger’s life. Getting trained is easily accessible to anyone who wants it and not hard to complete. Learning the basics can be empowering, and it is something you will remember throughout your lifetime.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more commonly known as CPR, is a life-saving technique that helps maintain blood flow to the brain and heart in an emergency situation. Knowing CPR is a requirement for some professions such as lifeguard, child care provider, and health care assistant. Here are a few reasons why CPR training is so crucial.

CPR is life saving

If you are ever in an emergency situation, the first step is to always call 911. But in some cases those few minutes spent waiting on a medical professional are precious. If you are certified in CPR, you will be able to confidently and effectively apply these skills to help aid the victim until the first responders arrive and can take over.

CPR is not performed enough

Recent studies suggest that less than half of those who suffer from cardiac arrest receive any type of CPR assistance from a bystander. When these types of situations arise, the common response is that no bystander was certified in CPR or that there was an aspect of fear involved, causing those around to hesitate in administering these critical skills. Taking a CPR course will alleviate any fear you may have in administering proper CPR techniques should an emergency occur.

CPR is empowering

Not all emergency situations requiring CPR occur in a public forum. Almost 85 percent of all cardiac arrests take place in the home.

Spouses, children, and parents alike should consider taking even the most basic CPR certification course in preparation for any dire situation. We all know children under the age of five are known to get into quite a bit of mischief. Should your child become unresponsive due to his own curiosities, you will feel confident in knowing there is something you can do until professional medical help arrives.

The same rule applies if your husband, father, wife, or mother appears unresponsive while in your home. Knowing proper CPR will give you the courage and assuredness you may need to take swift, and potentially life-saving, action.

CPR is better in numbers

Should an emergency situation arise while you are in a restaurant, crowded shopping mall, or grocery store, having more than one person who is adequately trained in CPR can be beneficial. Depending on how long it takes for an ambulance to arrive, a single person performing CPR could grow tired or frustrated. This is where a second CPR trainee could step in and relieve the first person of his or her duties. They could then trade off applying their CPR skills until help arrives.

CPR is a work skill

As already mentioned, CPR licensure is required for some occupations. While many job descriptions do not call for their applicants to be professionally trained in CPR, those certifications are certainly useful and valued in any workplace. Being certified in CPR may set your resume apart from the crowd and ultimately earn you an interview with a potential employer.

Disaster Preparedness: Pets

9/25/2019 (Permalink)

Step 1: Get a Rescue Alert Sticker

This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers (we recommend placing it on or near your front door), and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home as well as the name and number of your veterinarian. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers. 

Step 2: Arrange a Safe Haven

Arrange a safe haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that not all shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
  • Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
  • Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.

Step 3: Choose "Designated Caregivers”

This step will take considerable time and thought. When choosing a temporary caregiver, consider someone who lives close to your residence. He or she should be someone who is generally home during the day while you are at work or has easy access to your home. A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual. This may work well with neighbors who have pets of their own—you may even swap responsibilities, depending upon who has accessibility.

When selecting a permanent caregiver, you’ll need to consider other criteria. This is a person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet in the event that something should happen to you. When selecting this “foster parent,” consider people who have met your pet and have successful cared for animals in the past. Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver, so he or she understands the responsibility of caring for your pet.

Step 4: Prepare Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits

If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials. To minimize evacuation time, take these simple steps:

  • Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to also write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.
  • The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted under the skin in the animal’s shoulder area, and can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters.
  • Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home in a crisis.
  • Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is, and that it clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your “Evac-Pack” include:
    • Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
    • 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
    • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
    • Litter or paper toweling
    • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
    • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
    • Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
    • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
    • Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
    • At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
    • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
    • Flashlight
    • Blanket
    • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
    • Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter
    • Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner

You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Preparedness & Recovery

9/25/2019 (Permalink)

Disasters are often unpredictable and can happen at any time and to anyone. They may be natural, man-made, or both. Disasters are defined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as an occurrence that has resulted in property damage, deaths, and/or injuries to a community, and  may include floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes, fires, illnesses, chemical or radiation emergencies, and terrorist or bioterrorist attacks, among others.

At the end of the 20th century, disasters affected an estimated 66.5 million children each year world-wide and it is estimated that this number will continue to grow as a result of societal changes (e.g., conflicts, hunger) and climate changes. Around the world and in the U.S., disasters disproportionately affect poor populations—both youth and families—as a result of risk factors such as living in environmentally vulnerable locations, living in less stable housing, and having poor physical health. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, children under 18 made up 24 percent of the total U.S. population, but 35.5 percent of the people living in poverty resulting in a higher poverty rate for children under the age of 18 than any other age group.  Further, research suggests that youth, specifically school-age youth, tend to be more severely affected by disasters than adults and may experience disasters differently due to age and other factors.

Ensuring youth and their families know what to do in an emergency and that the unique needs and assets of youth are included in disaster preparedness, prevention, response, and recovery efforts is critical. While many individuals report that they are aware of disasters and their potential effects, fewer report that they have undertaken steps to plan for or prepare for disasters. Prevention and preparedness refer to the planning and actions that occur prior to a disaster. This may include preparing for public health threats, developing an emergency response plan, creating an emergency preparedness kit, or taking steps to address things that may cause a disaster. Response and recovery refer to actions that occur during and after disasters or emergencies. Responses to emergencies may include sheltering in place or evacuating, and recovery may include repairing damaged infrastructure, reuniting families, replacing supplies, addressing emotional responses and revising response plans. Youth-serving agencies can play an important role educating youth about disasters and teaching them coping mechanisms. Involving them in prevention, preparedness, recovery, and response efforts can help to ensure that youth, families, and communities are prepared and able to respond when faced with disasters.

Fire prevention strategies

9/24/2019 (Permalink)

Fire prevention strategies for your family

In addition to arming your home, you can employ a few fire safety strategies to keep your family protected.

  • Keep an outdoor water supply with easy access for firefighters: Leave plenty of room for fire trucks to enter and attach to a water supply, if necessary.
  • Prepare an emergency plan with your family: Make sure all family members know what to do and where to go if a house fire occurs. Include an alternate meeting location if your home becomes inaccessible.
  • Assemble an emergency kit: Emergency kits can make a world of difference if you have to evacuate your home. Make sure to include first aid items, bottled water, food, identification information, any necessary prescriptions, additional clothing, a flashlight (don’t forget extra batteries), and a spare credit card or money.
  • If a wildfire is imminent, make arrangements for overnight stay in a safe area: If a wildfire is truly spreading to your home, you may be forced to stay away for several days. Make provisions in your fire safety plan for overnight stay for you and your family. Don’t forget about your pets!
  • Download the wildfire readiness app: Calfire offers a Ready for Wildfire mobile app for Apple and Android devices. The app sends push notifications of impending fires, offers checklists for preparing your home and family, provides maps that show current fires, reports stats and information related to current wildfire events, and even supplies a series of videos to help educate yourself for wildfire readiness.
  • Protect yourself and your family from wildfire smoke: Even if you have evacuated the immediate area of a wildfire, your family could still be harmed by the smoke generated by wildfires. Avoid inhaling smoke when possible. The CDC offers tips to protect yourself from the harmful smoke.

In the event of a house fire, your greatest asset is being prepared. Use these fire safety tips to help you prevent fires and keep your family protected.

Protecting your home from house fires

9/23/2019 (Permalink)

Protecting your home from house fires

You can take a few precautions to safeguard your home from potential fire hazards. Practicing these fire safety strategies will reduce your likelihood of having to clean up after a fire.

  • Use a smoke alarm that ties into a mobile app: Using a “smart” smoke alarm will alert you to dangers sooner by sending you notifications if dangerous conditions are detected. Often, these fire prevention devices can work with your security system to give you added protection. In the true fashion of the smart home, there are now many options available that will do the trick:
    • Nest Protect: This device is a smoke and carbon monoxide detector. It also ties in with the Nest thermostat and can be controlled via a mobile device.
    • Onelink: This Wi-Fi smoke and carbon monoxide detector works with Apple HomeKit to alert you immediately of any dangers.
    • Halo: Halo’s version of the smart smoke alarm informs you when something is wrong and sends a notification to your phone.
    • Roost Smart Battery: Do these options seem a little unreachable at the moment? You can always retrofit your existing alarms with the Roost Smart Battery. This 9-volt battery fits over the alarms you already have and will notify you via mobile app when an alarm sounds. As a bonus, the Roost Smart Battery will even alert you when battery levels are running low.
  • Keep your home clear of any outlying debris: Dispose of any combustible debris that surrounds your home. Clear away anything that could cause a house fire. In addition, keep low-hanging foliage trimmed and a safe distance from the outer reaches of your home.
  • Cover all openings with wire mesh: This fire prevention method keeps any blowing embers from entering your home and catching fire.
  • Safeguard your roof with fire-resistant materials: House fires are frequently started by blowing embers alighting on rooftops. FEMA recommends that homes in fire-prone areas take precautions by replacing roofing using fire-resistant materials. In addition, keep your gutters clean of all debris.
  • Store any combustible materials away from you home: Grills make for a great cookout, but are not wise to have close to your home when a fire is likely to occur.
  • Install a fire extinguisher in your home: When all else fails and a house fire does catch, having a fire extinguisher on hand can help you prevent the damage from spreading.

Fire Prevention in Your Home

9/20/2019 (Permalink)

Fire prevention is more important than may realize. According to the National Interagency Fire Center, 30,763 fires occurred in the first half of 2017. If you want to avoid being a part of this statistic, practice these general fire prevention practices to keep your home safe:

  1. Clear your home’s surroundings of debris and combustible materials.

  2. Maintain your lawn and keep bushes and trees trimmed.

  3. Use fire-resistant materials when building or updating your home.

  4. Make sure your home has a fully functioning fire alarm system.

  5. Keep a shovel and fire extinguisher in an easily accessible place.

  6. Practice appropriate fire safety measures with campfires.

  7. Prepare a fire safety plan.

Wildfire Disasters

9/17/2019 (Permalink)

Wildfires

More and more people are making their homes in or near forests, rural areas or out-of-the-way mountain sites. There, homeowners enjoy the beauty of the environment but face the very real danger of a wildfire.

Every year across the United States, some homes survive and others do not after a major wildfire. Those that make it almost always do so because their owners had gotten ready for the possibility of fire. Fires cannot be escaped in wildland areas that are likely to have them. Said in another way - if it's predictable, it's preventable!

Wildfires often begin without being seen. These fires are usually triggered by lightning or accidents. They spread quickly, igniting brush, trees and homes. Lower your risk by getting ready now before wildfire strikes. Meet with your family to decide what to do and where to go if wildfires threaten your area. Follow the steps listed below to protect your family, home and property.

Tornado Disasters

9/16/2019 (Permalink)

Tornadoes

Tornadoes are nature’s most violent storms. They are formed from powerful thunderstorms. Tornadoes show up as spinning, funnel-shaped clouds that reach from a thunderstorm to the ground with whirling winds that can reach 300 miles per hour. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and 50 miles long.

In North Carolina, tornadoes can occur with little or no warning at any time during the year. The peak season, however, is March through May.

Sometimes, tornadoes develop so quickly that little, if any, advance warning is possible. Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still. A cloud of debris can mark the place of a tornado even if a funnel is not seen. Tornadoes occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

If you see a tornado coming, you only have a short time to make life-or-death choices. Know the basics of tornado safety. Plan ahead. Hold an annual tornado drill. Doing these will lower the chance of injury or death if a tornado strikes your area.

Know the Terms and Danger Signs

  • Watch – conditions are right for tornado formation.
  • Warning – a tornado has actually been sighted.

Danger signs

  • If there is a watch or warning posted, falling hail should be thought to be a real danger sign.
  • A cloud of debris can mark the place of a tornado, even if you cannot see a funnel.
  • Before a tornado hits, the wind may die down and the air may become very still.
  • Tornadoes occur near the trailing edge of a thunderstorm. It is not uncommon to see clear, sunlit skies behind a tornado.

Hurricane Disasters

9/13/2019 (Permalink)

Hurricanes

Hurricanes are powerful tropical weather systems with clear circulation and winds of 74 miles per hour or higher. When hurricanes move onto land, they sweep the ocean inward. They can cause tornadoes. They make heavy rains and floods. Hurricanes are grouped into categories based on the wind speed. The stronger the wind speed, the higher the category. Most damage caused by hurricanes is from flooding, not the strong winds.

North Carolina’s coast is one of the nation’s areas most open to a direct hurricane strike because its coastline extends out. All areas of the state – from coastal and sound counties to the mountains – have been impacted by hurricanes in the past 20 years. Heavy winds, tornadoes, strong thunderstorms, flooding, storm surge and landslides can all be caused by hurricanes causing tragic damage.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season runs from June 1 to November 30 with the peak season from mid-August to late October.

Categories 
Tropical Depression - contains winds up to 39 miles per hour (mph). 
Tropical Storm - 39 - 73 mph winds 
Category 1 – 74 to 95 mph winds 
Category 2 – 96 to 110 mph winds 
Category 3 – 111 to 129 mph winds 
Category 4 – 130 to 156 mph winds. 
Category 5 – winds 157 mph or greater. 

After a Flood

9/12/2019 (Permalink)

After The Flood

  • Listen to local officials for when it is safe to return home.
  • Contact your insurance agent to talk about claims.
  • Tune to local media for information on any kind of help that may be given by the state or federal government or other groups.
  • Stay away from floodwaters. Water may be dirty with oil, gasoline or raw sewage.
  • Fixed broken septic tanks, cesspools, pits and leaching systems as soon as you can. Damaged sewer systems are serious health problems.
  • Listen for news reports to learn whether the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
  • Clean and cleanse everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwaters can contain sewage and chemicals. 
  • Rest often and eat well.
  • Keep a manageable schedule. Make a list and do jobs one at a time.
  • Check references if you hire cleanup or repair contractors. Be sure they are trained to do the job. Be wary of people who drive through neighborhoods offering help in cleaning up or fixing your home.

SERVPRO of Lincoln/Northeast Gaston Counties understands how stressful it can be to deal with water damage. Let us handle your clean-up and let us deal with your insurance company!

Give Thanks to First Responders

9/11/2019 (Permalink)

Write a letter

Receiving a letter in this day and age is rare. However, handwritten letters are one of the most genuine ways to show someone how much you care and appreciate them. Write a letter (or a few) and deliver them to your local fire station. You’ll initiate a smile from a first responder for sure.

Spread the Word

If a first responder completely rocked your world, tell people about it. Tell your coworkers, local businesses, friends, family, everyone. It may not be a direct thanks, but gratitude can always be shown indirectly as well.

Donate to a charity that benefits first responders and fire departments.

They may have given you or someone you know a second chance at life. Why not give back? Check out your community’s fire department web page and learn more about their needs and how you can help.

Cook and deliver a meal.

Due to an unpredictable schedule, first responders often skip meals in order to perform their duties. Show your local heroes that you care by dropping off a home-cooked meal at the station!

Decorate a Banner

Homemade art projects are about as genuine as you can get. Gather up your family and neighbors and paint a heartfelt “thank you” banner. After the paint has dried, surprise your community first responders with a lovely gift of appreciation!

Attend an event where you know they will be present.

First responders are not always the center of attention at events, but you’ll be surprised how many they go to in order to keep you and your family safe. For example, they are at any major public event such as parades, concerts, sporting events, or festivals. Find one next time and offer them a cold soda or water. Express your gratitude by lending a helping hand.  

Thank them on social media.

Most Americans have a couple hundred friends/followers on their social media accounts. If you write a post simply stating how thankful are for their service, that message could go farther than you think. In addition, some of your friends may jump on that same bandwagon and thank them on their accounts as well.

Simply say “thank you”.

If you become more aware of your surroundings every time you’re out in public, you’ll start noticing how many first responders are nearby. When you see one while you are out, walk up and simply tell them how much you appreciate them. A few seconds of kindness goes far.

Know Your Flood Risk

9/6/2019 (Permalink)

8/13/2019

Floods

Floods are one of the most common dangers in the United States. Floods can occur at any time of the year and just about anywhere in North Carolina. They may be caused by large amounts of rain, hurricanes or dam failures.

Eastern North Carolina had a very bad, record-setting 500-year flood caused by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. Sixty-six of the state’s 100 counties were stated to be disaster areas. North Carolinians living in the mountains had terrible floods in 2004 caused by the leftovers of two hurricanes. Flash floods in the mountains can move very fast, causing landslides, uprooting trees, rolling boulders, and destroying buildings and bridges.

Flooding is dangerous whether you are in your home, driving or on foot. Just a few inches of water can knock you off your feet or sweep your car away. Never drive through flooded roadways. Stay away from swollen streams and rivers.

Be aware that most insurance policies do not include flood damage. Think about buying a separate flood insurance policy. Go to www.ncfloodmaps.com to find out if you are in a flood zone.

Extreme Heat Risks

9/5/2019 (Permalink)

Extreme Heat

Heat can kill people because it pushes the human body past what it can handle. In extreme heat and high humidity, water evaporation is slowed and the body must work extra hard to keep a normal temperature.

Most heat problems occur because the person has been overexposed to heat or has over-exercised for his or her age and physical condition. Older adults, young children and those who are sick or overweight are more likely to give in to extreme heat.

Conditions that can bring on heat-related illnesses include still atmospheric conditions and poor air quality. People who live cities may be at greater risk from the effects of a long heat wave than those living in rural areas. Asphalt and concrete store heat longer and slowly release heat at night. This can make temperatures rise at night in a city, called the "urban heat island effect."

A heat wave is a long time of extreme heat. It is often with high humidity. These conditions can be dangerous and even life-threatening for people who don’t do what they ought to do to keep themselves safe.

Drought Disasters

9/4/2019 (Permalink)

Drought

Drought has happened in every part of the state in recent years. Some areas had very dry conditions. Others had mild drought conditions. Droughts can last for months or years. You can use easy water saving ways to keep water from being used up.

These easy tips can help save water all the time.

  • Turn off the water while brushing your teeth.
  • Fix dripping faucets. One drop per second wastes 2,700 gallons of water per year.
  • Check plumbing for leaks. Get a plumber to fix any leaks.
  • Put in aerators with flow restrictors on all faucets.
  • Choose appliances that are more energy and water efficient.
  • Install a low-volume toilet that uses less than half the water of older models.
  • Put a one-gallon plastic jug of water into the toilet tank to shift water. Do not use a brick; it may melt and cause problems inside the toilet. Be sure that putting the gallon jug in place does not get in the way of the working parts.
  • Replace your showerhead with an ultra-low-flow version.
  • Compost food scraps or throw them in the garbage. (Garbage disposals use a lot of water.)

Indoor Tips

Kitchen

  • Wash dishes by hand to save water. Just do not leave the water running for rinsing. Use a second sink or tub filled with rinse water, and then use that water to flush toilets. You could spray cleaned dishes with short blasts of water. This will saves 200 to 500 gallons a month.
  • Use the smallest amount of washing soap as you can. This lowers the amount of rinse water needed. Saves 50 to 150 gallons a month.
  • Don't rinse dirty dishes before loading into dishwater. Scrape dirty dishes clean. Then, let the machine do the rest.
  • Run the dishwasher only when it is full. Use the “water-saver” setting if there is one. Saves up to 1,000 gallons a month.
  • Use only one glass for your drinking water each day. It will lower the use of the dishwasher.
  • Keep a pitcher of cold water in the fridge, instead of running tap water until it is cold
  • Drink water instead of soft drinks, tea, coffee or alcohol. Your body better uses water.
  • Don't thaw frozen food under running water. Don't let the faucet run while you clean vegetables. Rinse them in a filled sink or pan.
  • Use water in which you boiled food (if not saving for soup) to water plants.
  • Check for leaks – both indoors and out. Fix any leaks. Fixing a leak can save 500 gallons each month. A dripping faucet can waste 3,600 gallons a year.

Bathroom

  • Take faster showers (5 minutes or less). Shower enough to get wet, turn off water and soap up, and then turn on the water to rinse.
  • Collect tap water. While you wait for hot water to come down the pipes, catch the flow in a watering can to use later on house plants or your garden, or to flush your toilet. Saves 200 to 300 gallons a month.
  • Turn off the water while shaving or brushing teeth. Fill the bottom of the sink with a few inches of water to rinse your razor. Saves 3 gallons each day.
  • Check for leaks by dropping a small amount of food coloring in the upper tank. If color appears in the bowl, you have a leak
  • Put in faucet aerators and or water-saving showerheads. Faucet aerators increase spray velocity and lower splash.
  • Don't use your toilet as a wastebasket.

Laundry

  • Use front-load washing machines. A front-load uses up to 60 percent less water and up to 68 percent less energy than top-loading machines. This means they save on power too!
  • Run only full loads in the washing machine. Saves 300 to 800 gallons per month.

Outdoor Tips

  • Limit car washing. When you wash your car, use a bucket and hose with an automatic shut-off nozzle. You can use commercial car wash that recycles water too.
  • Check for and fix leaky garden taps, hose connections and sprinkler valves.
  • Collect natural water with a rain barrel for car washing or lawn and garden watering.
  • Add compost and other organic matter to your soil to make it more able to hold water. Choose plants that do not need a lot of water.
  • Water your lawn only when it needs it. Water in the early morning or late evening to stop water from evaporating. Watering your lawn in short cycles is better than one long cycle.
  • Put sprinklers so that they do not water pavement. Change your sprinklers, so that water lands on your lawn or garden—not the sidewalk. Saves 500 gallons per month.
  • Do not water on windy days. There's too much evaporation. Can waste up to 300 gallons in one watering
  • Water slowly, carefully, and as rarely as you can to have deep roots and healthy plants.
  • Hold your garden hose close to the roots of plants so that there's little waste and evaporative loss.
  • Mulch all plant beds to reduce water evaporation, weeds and soil temperature.
  • Use rinse water from the house to water plants in or near the house.
  • Use a broom, not a hose to clean driveways, sidewalks, deck or patio.
  • Put rain gutters in. Collect water from downspouts also helps lower water use. Add a drip irrigation system for shrubs, vegetable gardens, flower beds or pots. This saves us to 50 percent in outside water use. It's easy, cheap and a good way to save water.
  • Trickle irrigation and drip irrigation systems help lower water use. This way to water meets the needs of plants. These ways mean very small amounts of water are given to the base of the plants. Since the water is applied directly to the soil, rather than onto the plant, evaporation from leaf surfaces is lowered.
  • Don't mow too low. Keep lawns two to three inches high to stop them from drying out too fast. Taller grass means less water evaporation. Saves 500 to 1,500 gallons each month.
  • Cover your swimming pool to stop evaporative loss. Delay any pool repairs that are not needed if they mean you need to drain and refill your pool.

Earthquake Disaster

9/4/2019 (Permalink)

Earthquake

An earthquake is the sudden, quick shaking of the earth caused by the breaking and moving of underground rock.

Earthquakes are followed by aftershocks. Some aftershock may be as strong as the original quake. Sometimes, aftershock can go on for hours, days or week.

Major earthquakes do not happen very often in North Carolina. Smaller earthquakes have been known to happen in the state. The 2011 East Coast earthquake reminded North Carolinians that earthquakes in other states can cause problems in our state.

You need to know what to do if an earthquake occurs at or near your home, workplace, or while you're driving. At first, you would hear a low rumbling noise followed by the shaking. It could start softly and grow more violent. You could be hit by a quick jolt. Most wounds are from falling objects and trash. Stay calm. Follow three simple steps.

1. DROP – Get down on the floor when shaking starts before the quake drops you.

2. COVER - Take cover under a sturdy desk, table or other furniture. If you cannot find something to get under, crouch against an inside wall. Keep your head and neck safe by using your arms. Stay away from windows, hanging objects, mirrors or anything that might fall over.

3. HOLD ON – Hold on to a desk, table or piece of furniture. Be ready to move with it during the quake.

Before an Earthquake

Follow the steps below to keep you, your family and property safe in an earthquake.

  • Fasten shelves securely to walls.
  • Place large or heavy objects on lower shelves.
  • Store breakable items such as bottled foods, glass and china in low, closed cabinets with latches.
  • Fasten heavy items such as pictures and mirrors firmly to walls. Do not put them near beds, couches or anywhere people sit.
  • Support overhead light fixtures and top-heavy objects.
  • Fix out of order electrical wiring and leaky gas connections. They can cause a fire. Get the right people to help fix problems. Do not work with gas or electrical lines yourself.
  • Fix any deep cracks in ceilings or foundations. Get expert help if there are signs of structural problems.
  • Put weed killers, pesticides, and products that can cause a fire in closed cabinets on bottom shelves. Lock these things up.
  • Find safe spots in each room under a sturdy table or against an inside wall. Tell everyone in the house about these places. Run through where to go.
  • Hold earthquake drills with your family members: Drop, cover and hold on
  • During an Earthquake

    Indoors

    • Think of the three things to do: DROP, COVER and HOLD ON. If you are indoors, stay there until the shaking has stopped.
    • Stay away from glass, windows, outside doors and walls, and anything that could fall such as light fixtures or furniture.
    • Stay away from doorways unless you know it is a load-bearing doorway and is close to you.
    • In the Kitchen: Move away from the refrigerator, stove and overhead cupboards.
    • In High-Rise Buildings: Stay near an inside wall. Do not use the elevators.
    • In a stadium or theater: Stay in your seat and protect your head with your arms. DO NOT try to leave until the shaking is over.

    Outdoors

    • Move to a clear area, away from trees, signs, buildings or downed electrical wires and poles.
    • On the Street: Duck into a doorway to protect yourself from falling bricks, glass, plaster and other debris.
    • In the Car: Pull over to the side of the road and stop. Stay away from overpasses, power lines and other dangers. STAY INSIDE THE VEHICLE UNTIL THE SHAKING IS OVER.
    • In a Store: Do not run for the exits. STAY CALM. Move away from anything that might fall.
    • In the Mountains: Watch out for falling rock, landslides, trees and other debris that could be loosened by quakes.

After the earthquake

An earthquake might only last a few seconds. Aftershocks can be as strong as the earthquake. They may occur for days or weeks after the shaking begins.

  • Expect aftershocks.
  • Help hurt or trapped people. Give first aid when it is needed. Do not move badly hurt people unless they are in danger of getting hurt again. Call for help.
  • Look for and put out small fires. Fire is the most common danger after an earthquake.
  • Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest emergency information.
  • Do not go into buildings with damage or those that have fallen down.
  • Stay away from electrical wiring, both indoors and out.
  • Be aware of possible tsunamis in coastal areas. When local authorities give a tsunami warning, assume that a series of dangerous waves is on the way. Stay away from the beach.
  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Be careful when driving. Traffic light may not be working.
  • Check your home for signs of structural damage. Check the full length of chimneys for damage. Unseen damage could cause a fire.
  • Check your gas, water, power.
    • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear blowing or hissing noise, open a window and leave the building. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve. Call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas, a trained person must turn it back on.
    • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell hot insulation, turn off the power at the main fuse box or circuit breaker. Call an electrician first for help if you have to step in water to get to the fuse box or circuit breaker.
    • Check for sewage and water lines damage. If you suspect sewage lines are not working, stay away from using the toilets. Call a plumber. If water pipes are damaged, call the water company. Do not use water from the tap.

Know Your Natural Disaster Dangers

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

Types of Dangers

It is important to know the types of dangers that may be a problem to you and your family. This will help you get ready for any type of emergency.

All parts of North Carolina have been hit by tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, lightning strikes, snow and ice storms. These natural disasters have caused power outages, property damage, damage to the land, and breaks in food and water supplies. Very bad weather is not the only danger that you should be ready for.

Dangerous materials events also may cause you problems. Unsafe materials can spill out while they are being made, stored, moved or put in the trash. You need to know if you live or work near a maker of chemicals, or near to a major road or rail line. It is important to know if you live near a nuclear power plant. Take time to plan what you would do in an emergency.

Your plan should have the names and phone numbers of people you will call during an emergency. It is good to know how you will get in touch with one another. Put together an emergency supply kit with plenty of food, water and basic supplies for each member of your family (pets, too) for three to seven days. Key papers – insurance policies, medical records and banking information – should be in your kit. Make your plan and kit now! It will help keep you and your family safe during and after a disaster. Look over insurance policies to make sure you are protected. Know how to make a claim in the event of storm damage.

National Preparedness Month

9/2/2019 (Permalink)

Create a Family Game Plan

In an emergency, every second counts- that’s why it’s crucial to have a game plan, and why this year’s National Preparedness Month theme is “Don’t Wait Communicate.”

This September, as part of National Preparedness Month, the Red Cross encourages all Americans to develop a family game plan. Get started using the steps below!

Check with your local chapter for trainings and events in your community.

Steps to Create a Family Game Plan

Make a Plan

 

Get a Kit

How Red Cross Supports National Preparedness Month

Different types of disasters and emergencies happen in communities across the country, but there are key steps that every household can take to be better prepared for them. If you do nothing else this month, take time to create a disaster plan including a home fire escape plan.

All Red Cross regions are celebrating National Preparedness Month by implementing programs in communities throughout the county. Some examples of our work include:

  • Conducting in-home visits to test and install smoke alarms and provide fire safety and disaster education
  • Presenting The Pillowcase Project, a youth preparedness program sponsored by Disney, to thousands of 3rd-5th grade children across the country.
  • Participating in America’s PrepareAthon! by working collaboratively with local government entities to support community-specific initiatives, like registrations for emergency notification systems
  • Encouraging households with children to download the free Monster Guard app, which teaches youth about preparedness through a fun game
  • Serving as a NOAA Weather-Ready Nation AmbassadorTM
  • Collaborating with United States Fire Administration on the Fire Is Everyone’s FightTM campaign, and planning smoke alarm installation events during Fire Prevention Week

Hurricane Dorian

8/30/2019 (Permalink)

Hurricane Dorian strengthened overnight and is expected to slam into Florida as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds. The projected path has it making landfall in South Florida, but then driving right up through Central Florida and over downtown Orlando.

The expected arrival of the storm is now on the tail end of Labor Day weekend as its forward speed has slowed, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said this morning that is good and bad news.

“Floridians need to be prepared,” DeSantis said. “The bad news of the storm going slower is that that could potentially have some negative impacts once it reaches landfall, but you do have time before it reaches to prepare if you have not done so.”

DeSantis said local officials will decide Friday about whether to order voluntary or mandatory evacuations. So far, 2,000 Florida National Guard members have been activated to help prepare for the storm, with 4,000 expected to be activated by Saturday.

  

At 11 a.m. Friday, Hurricane Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and was located about 480 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and 660 miles east of West Palm Beach. It was moving to the northwest at 10 mph, slowing down in forward speed even more today, which pushed its Florida landfall even farther into next week. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the storm’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.

“Dorian will remain an extremely dangerous, major hurricane as it moves through the Northwestern Bahamas and approaches Florida early next week,” said WOFL-Fox 35 meteorologist Kristin Giannas. “The latest track shows that Dorian will slow down considerably before and after landfall near West Palm Beach. It’s increasingly likely that the threat for life-threatening storm surge, high winds and heavy rain will last more than a couple days.” 

The current path has the storm making landfall north of West Palm Beach Tuesday morning as a dangerously strong Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts up to 160 mph. The storm would then move inland and slowly make its way toward Central Florida -- now projected to move right over downtown Orlando by Wednesday morning as a Category 1 storm with winds of 75 mph and gusts up to 90 mph.

"Dorian is growing stronger, now a Category 2 storm but, will intensify later today into a Category 3 with winds over 115 mph,” said WOFL-Fox 35 meteorologist Jayme King. "Central Floridians need to take this storm seriously and prepare for threats coming our way.”

At 140 mph, it would be the strongest storm to hit Florida’s east coast since Hurricane Andrew tore through South Florida in August 1992, which caused more than $25 billion in damages and was blamed for 44 deaths.

Because of the Hurricane Dorian’s slow motion, there will be greater impact from wind and rain for South and Central Florida.

 

“One of the biggest concerns with a slow moving hurricane like Dorian is that the dangerous weather will last a few days - that’s strong winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge," said Fox 35 meteorologist Kristin Giannas.

Added King, “Dorian looks to produce a lot of rain for Central Florida, possibly around 2 feet in some locations."

President Donald Trump warned it could be an “absolute monster.”

“All indications are it’s going to hit very hard and it’s going to be very big,” Trump said in a video he tweeted Thursday evening, comparing Dorian to Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992.

Because the storm is still days away, the National Hurricane Center cautioned that its path might change.

“Dorian will likely slow down considerably as it approaches the Florida peninsula,” forecasters said. “There is more spread among the deterministic models and their ensemble members during that time, with disagreement on exactly when and where Dorian will turn northwestward and northward on days 4 and 5.”

Gov. DeSantis declared a state of emergency, clearing the way to bring in more fuel and call out the National Guard if necessary.

Pet Fire Safety

5/7/2019 (Permalink)

PREVENTING A FIRE

  • Reduce open flame exposure – Pets are curious and may try to investigate your unattended candles or fireplace. Opt instead for flameless candles or an enclosed fireplace to prevent an accidental knock or escaped ember from burning out of control.
  • Put covers on or remove stove knobs and discourage climbing in the kitchen – An accidental nudge of a stove knob is the number one cause of house fires started by pets. By preventing your pet from interacting with a stove, you can take a big step toward preventing fires.
  • Secure loose wires – Pets may like to chew on wires and cords, but ensure that these items are out of reach from your pet, as they can lead to fires.
  • Never put a glass bowl on a wooden porch – The sun’s rays can heat the bowl and cause a fire on your wooden deck. Opt instead for ceramic or stainless-steel dishes when outside.

PREPARING FOR A FIRE

  • Include your pet into your family emergency plan and practice taking them with you. Talk with your family members to determine who is responsible for grabbing your pets and who should grab their supplies (food, medication, photo, leashes and carriers, medical records) during an emergency so you can reduce scrambling and redundancy when speed and efficiency are needed.
  • Put a decal in your home’s front window indicating the number and type of pets you have – Providing this information can cut down on the time responders spend searching your home in the case of a fire.
  • Make sure your pet’s updated contact information is reflected on their ID collar and in the microchip database – If your pet gets lost during a fire, this will help rescuers get him or her back to you.
  • Use monitored smoke detectors that are connected to emergency responders – Should a fire start while you are away from your home, you’ll rest assured that your pet has access to emergency response services even if no one is home to call them.
  • Know your pets’ hideaways and create ways for easy access to them in case of an emergency – It’s nice that your pet can get away if he or she wants to, but in an emergency, you need to be able to locate and extract your pet as quickly as possible.

DURING A FIRE

  • Attempt to grab your pet and exit the home as quickly as possible, but if it takes too long to locate or secure them, leave – You should never delay escape or endanger yourself or your family. Once responders get there, immediately inform them your pet is still inside, so they can go enter your home and continue looking for your pet.
  • Grab leashes and carriers on your way out – Outside will be chaotic and that may cause your pet to try to escape to a calm, safe area.
  • Never go back inside a burning house. If you can’t find your pet, leave, open the door, and call to them repeatedly from a safe distance away. Let firefighters take over the task of locating your pet.

The 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

5/7/2019 (Permalink)

The 7 Ways to Prepare for a Home Fire

 

Install the right number of smoke alarms. Test them once a month and replace the batteries at least once a year. Purchase smoke alarms here.        

 

Teach children what smoke alarms sound like and what to do when they hear one. 

 

Ensure that all household members know two ways to escape from every room of your home and know the family meeting spot outside of your home.

 

Establish a family emergency communications plan and ensure that all household members know who to contact if they cannot find one another.

 

Practice escaping from your home at least twice a year. Press the smoke alarm test button or yell “Fire“ to alert everyone that they must get out.

 

Make sure everyone knows how to call 9-1-1.

 

Teach household members to STOP, DROP and ROLL if their clothes should catch on fire. 

How to Protect Your Home from Flood Damage

5/7/2019 (Permalink)

How to Protect Your Home from Flood Damage 

  • Consider flood insurance (especially if you live in areas where weather-related flooding is common). Government-issued disaster assistance doesn’t always cover the cost of damage from a flood, so it’s important to consider a supplemental insurance policy.
  • Bring appliances such as utilities, broilers, window air conditioning units and other HVAC equipment to higher ground if possible, as these items are particularly vulnerable to flood damage.
  • Hire a trusted plumber to install a sewage water backstop or sump pump. Some cities offer programs to fund the installation of these types of valves. Check with your local official to see if this is offered in your area.
  • Fill any holes or cracks in foundation with caulk or patching to prevent potential leaks.

Tips to Get Your Home Ready for Warm Weather

5/1/2019 (Permalink)

It may seem like all you need to do to prepare for warmer weather is to buy a new bathing suit and book your summer vacation. But, beyond the traditional deep cleaning, spring is the perfect time to get your home ready for summer. We've compiled a list of the most important chores to prep your house for warm weather - and save you time and money in the long run.

  1. Service Your Air Conditioner:

There's not much worse than having your air conditioner break when summer is in full swing (and most HVAC companies are booked solid). That's why spring is the best time to check out your air conditioning system to ensure it'll keep you cool in the months ahead. 

First, change the system's filter. Clogged and dirty filters make air conditioning systems work harder, stay on longer and cost more to run. Hopefully, you're already changing your heating and air filters every two to four months, depending on how much dust, pet hair, and the like are in your home. Spring is the best time to get started on that cycle with your air conditioning filter, so you don't start the season with one that's old and dirty. 

Second, turn on your unit to see how it's cooling. If the A/C doesn't kick on (it might take a minute), check your circuit breakers or fuses. If it still won't start up or cool like you think it should, call a professional. 

Even if everything does seem to be in working order, it can still be a good idea to call a pro. Having your unit tuned up annually can help extend its life and keep it running efficiently. Seasonal maintenance usually includes inspecting and cleaning your unit, and servicing parts that might need it. Many HVAC companies offer a prepaid annual service plan that covers tune-ups, filter changes, and a discount on repairs if something does go wrong. Do the math to make sure it's worth it, and if it is, you won't need to worry about paying the technician for tune-up and maintenance visits.

  1. Clean Windows and Screens:

Spring is the time to remove and clean storm windows that have spent the last few months keeping out the cold. To make those windowpanes sparkle, fill a spray bottle with window cleaning solution, use newspaper or a squeegee to leave them streak free, and wear gloves for protection if you have sensitive skin. 

While you're cleaning, evaluate how your windows have fared through the winter. Look for signs of dry rot and water damage from melting snow and ice. Check the seals around windows as well, and re-caulk or replace damaged weather stripping where needed. This will go a long way toward keeping the hot air out and the cool air in as the weather gets warmer. 

Finally, clean your window screens, inspect them, repair any damage, and reinstall them in your windows. Use a hose and mild detergent, but don't pressure wash them — the force of the spray can damage them. You can repair damaged screens with a kit you can purchase at most home improvement or hardware stores.

  1. Inspect Outdoor Plumbing:

Spring is the time to check that your outdoor spigots and irrigation system made it through the winter intact. Remove insulators (also called freeze caps) from outdoor faucets and turn on the water. A slow trickle may mean you have a problem in your pipes. Call in a plumber if the water isn't flowing like it should. 

If you have an in-ground irrigation system, follow the detailed steps in our downloadable irrigation checklist, or call in a pro if you don't feel comfortable maintaining it yourself. A tune-up will ensure your system is operating efficiently.

  1. Get Summer Tools Ready:

Lawn mowers and edgers are key to keeping your yard looking neat through the summer. Make sure your equipment is ready to tackle these tasks with springtime tune-ups. 

For gas mowers and edgers, clean the equipment and change the gas if you forgot to empty it at the end of lawn care season. Replace the oil and spark plugs, and get all new oil, fuel and air filters. Lubricate the moving parts and sharpen the mower blade. Check the edger's trimmer string to see if it needs replacing. If you're not comfortable doing either of these tune-ups yourself, you can have them handled by a professional. 

If your mower and edger are electric, inspect the cords for frays or cuts, and turn them on to be sure the equipment works. 

Power tools may be the workhorses of your lawn, but hand tools are just as important. If you didn't clean them off last winter, wash off any remaining dirt from your shovels, hoes, rakes, pruners and shears. Wipe them down with a lubricant, too. Lubricate hinges of pruners and shears, and carefully clean blades with rubbing alcohol. Sharpen blades if needed.


Pro Tip:
 Always put your hand tools away dry to help prevent rusting.

  1. Inspect Your Roof and Home's Exterior:

A quick look at your roof and home's exterior could reveal minor problems that have begun over the winter, which you can have repaired before they become major issues. 

Even if you can't go up on your roof because it's too high, you can inspect your shingles, flashings, and chimneys using a pair of binoculars. If you have a flat roof or a single-story home and are able to climb up, do so with caution. 

Check for misaligned, cracked or missing shingles, all of which can let water seep in. Also check flashing (those metal pieces where the shingles meet places like your chimney) for rust, and inspect the caulk around pipes or skylights to be sure it hasn't cracked. 

Take a look at the chimney. If it's masonry, inspect the joints between bricks or stones for pieces that have fallen out or have vegetation growing in them. Both could be signs of water problems. 

After you've finished inspecting the roof, examine the rest of your home's exterior. Consider pressure washing your home if it needs it. Then check the exterior paint for chipping. Scrape and touch up any places that have exposed wood, to prevent rot.

  1. Clean Gutters and Downspouts:

While you're assessing the outside of your home, check on your gutters and downspouts. Winter can be tough on them, and damage can lead to leaks that let water in your basement or crawl space, or cause wood rot around the gutters. 

Cleaning gutters can be a tough job, so consider hiring a pro, especially if your house is more than one story tall. If you're comfortable tackling it yourself, be safe and work with a partner. 

If you're doing it yourself, you'll need a sturdy ladder, gloves, a trowel, safety glasses and a hose. Use the trowel to scoop the gunk out of the gutters. Once you've gotten as much out as you can, hose out the gutters and let the water run out through the downspout. Use the hose to force out clogs. 

Be sure water from the downspouts flows away from your house to keep it from collecting around the foundation. As dirty as this job can be, it's one that can save a lot of headaches and bigger problems down the road.

  1. Check Your Attic:

Before the temperature is too hot to head up there, inspect your attic. There are several things that could have happened over the winter that may need your attention. Consider wearing a dust mask and long sleeves and long pants to protect yourself from insulation. 

You may have had critters nesting up there trying to escape the cold. If that's the case, you'll need to get rid of any animal droppings (another good reason to wear the mask). Even if it's old, animal waste can cause respiratory problems or other diseases. Next, find and seal the holes where the animals were coming in. 

Check for air vent obstructions and wet spots in the insulation that may indicate a leak. Consider adding additional insulation if yours has compacted. If you look out across the attic and can see the joists, you probably need more insulation. Insulation efficiency is measured in R-values; the higher the value the better the performance. A value of R-38 - at least 10 to 14 inches of insulation - is generally recommended for an attic.1

  1. Tidy Your Yard:

If you're finished with all of the work on this list - or even just read through it - you're probably ready to relax and enjoy your yard. To get it ready for the kids and adults, inspect all playground equipment, outdoor toys, and play areas for winter wear and damage, including rust, new sharp edges, or exposed screws. 

Bring your lawn and patio furniture out of storage, hose or wash them off and set up an area for dining, relaxing, or entertaining. If your furniture is metal, look for rust. Sand and repaint with spray paint if needed. 

Get your gas grill ready to go by checking burners for clogs. Make sure all gas hoses and connections are secure, and restock the propane if necessary. If you have a charcoal grill, make sure it's clean and free of ash and grease. 

With these important maintenance chores out of the way, you're ready to enjoy the warm weather - and relax on your summer vacation.

Spring Cleaning Outside

4/11/2019 (Permalink)

Spring Cleaning Outside

When making your spring cleaning list, remember your home's exterior.  A little attention could save you a bunch in unexpected repairs. 

Roof & Chimney
Examine your roof for missing or cracked shingles and damaged flashing around vents and chimneys. Check roof vents and chimney caps for bird nests and debris.

Gutters & Downspouts
Clogged gutters lead to rainwater back up and rot under shingles, waterfalls that cause window leaks and pools that drain into your crawl or basement and soften soil around tree roots causing them to fall.  Consider installing gutter screening and downspout extensions.

Foundation Vents & Drains
Look for missing or damaged screens, debris, signs of insect or rodent infestation, or other issues.  Unclog drainage systems designed to channel water away from the foundation, including city sewer drains.