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Fire-Safety Tips to Keep in Mind This Thanksgiving

11/2/2017 (Permalink)

The kitchen is where the holiday meal magic happens, but it can also be a danger zone, especially on Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is typically the most dangerous day of the year.  Everybody's cooking in the kitchen and it's one of the few days where almost everyone is preparing a meal.  "The house is more congested than normal so you have to control the flow in your kitchen to make sure there's no accidents.

More fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the home.  On Thanksgiving, in particular, there are three times as many house fires than any other day of the year, according to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission

Below are some safety tips for the holiday:

  1. Don't wear loose-fitting clothing around open flames.
  2. Don't leave your food unattended on the stove or in the oven.

Make sure a person is always in the kitchen watching the food that's cooking.

You should have a zone, around anything around the stove, within like a 3-feet range for children.

  1. If deep-frying turkey, do it outside.
  1. Never put water on a grease fire.
  1. Store fire extinguishers in plain sight and near an exit - not under the sink. According to the National Fire Protection Association. Because fires can double every five to 10 seconds - and can consume a room in just one minute - call 911 first.

Halloween Safety Tips

10/25/2017 (Permalink)

Trick-or-Treaters

  • Be bright at night – wear retro-reflective tape on costumes and treat buckets to improve visibility to motorists and others.
  • Wear disguises that don’t obstruct vision, and avoid facemasks. Instead, use nontoxic face paint. Also, watch the length of billowy costumes to help avoid tripping.
  • Ensure any props are flexible and blunt-tipped to avoid injury from tripping or horseplay.
  • Carry a flashlight containing fresh batteries, and place it facedown in the treat bucket to free up one hand. Never shine it into the eyes of oncoming drivers.
  • Stay on sidewalks and avoid walking in streets if possible.
  • If there are no sidewalks, walk on the left side of the road, facing traffic.
  • Look both ways and listen for traffic before crossing the street.
  • Cross streets only at the corner, and never cross between parked vehicles or mid-block.
  • Trick-or-treat in a group if someone older cannot go with you.
  • Tell your parents where you are going.

Parents

  • Ensure an adult or older, responsible youth is available to supervise children under age 12.
  • Plan and discuss the route your trick-or-treaters will follow.
  • Instruct children to travel only in familiar areas and along established routes.
  • Teach children to stop only at well-lit houses and to never to enter a stranger’s home or garage.
  • Establish a time for children to return home.
  • Tell children not to eat any treats until they get home.
  • Review trick-or-treating safety precautions, including pedestrian and traffic safety rules.
  • Make sure Halloween costumes are flame-retardant and visible with retro-reflective material.

Motorists

  • Slow down in residential neighborhoods and obey all traffic signs and signals. Drive at least 5 mph below the posted speed limit to give yourself extra time to react to children who may dart into the street.
  • Watch for children walking on roadways, medians and curbs. In dark costumes, they’ll be harder to see at night.
  • Look for children crossing the street. They may not be paying attention to traffic and cross the street mid-block or between parked cars.
  • Carefully enter and exit driveways and alleys.
  • Turn on your headlights to make yourself more visible – even in the daylight.
  • Broaden your scanning by looking for children left and right into yards and front porches.

Smoke Detector - Ionization vs Photoelectric

10/25/2017 (Permalink)

The two most commonly recognized smoke detection technologies are ionization smoke detection and photoelectric smoke detection.

Ionization smoke alarms are generally more responsive to flaming fires.
How they work: Ionization-type smoke alarms have a small amount of radioactive material between two electrically charged plates, which ionizes the air and causes current to flow between the plates. When smoke enters the chamber, it disrupts the flow of ions, thus reducing the flow of current and activating the alarm. 

Photoelectric smoke alarms are generally more responsive to fires that begin with a long period of smoldering (called “smoldering fires”).
How they work: Photoelectric-type alarms aim a light source into a sensing chamber at an angle away from the sensor. Smoke enters the chamber, reflecting light onto the light sensor; triggering the alarm. 

For each type of smoke alarm, the advantage it provides may be critical to life safety in some fire situations. Home fatal fires, day or night, include a large number of smoldering fires and a large number of flaming fires. You can not predict the type of fire you may have in your home or when it will occur. Any smoke alarm technology, to be acceptable, must perform acceptably for both types of fires in order to provide early warning of fire at all times of the day or night and whether you are asleep or awake.

For best protection, use both types of smoke alarm technologies

For best protection, it is recommended both (ionization and photoelectric) technologies be used in homes. In addition to individual ionization and photoelectric alarms, combination alarms that include both technologies in a single device are available.

October is Fire Prevention Month

9/26/2017 (Permalink)

Home Safety Checklist

Smoke Alarms

? There is one smoke alarm on every level of the home and inside and outside each sleeping area.

? Smoke alarms are tested and cleaned monthly.

? Smoke alarm batteries are changed as needed. 

? Smoke alarms are less than 10 years old.

Cooking Safety

? Cooking area is free from items that can catch fire.

? Kitchen stove hood is clean and vented to the outside.

? Pots are not left unattended on the stove.

Electrical & Appliance Safety

? Electrical cords do not run under rugs.

? Electrical cords are not frayed or cracked.

? Circuit-protected, multi-prong adapters are used for additional outlets.

? Large and small appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets.

? Clothes dryer lint filter and venting system are clean.

Candle Safety

? Candles are in sturdy fire-proof containers that won’t be tipped over.

? All candles are extinguished before going to bed or leaving the room.

? Children and pets are never left unattended with candles.

Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Carbon monoxide alarms are located on each level of the home.

? Carbon monoxide alarms are less than 7 years old.

Smoking Safety

Family members who smoke only buy fire-safe cigarettes and smoke outside.

? Matches and lighters are secured out of children’s sight.

? Ashtrays are large, deep and kept away from items that can catch fire.

? Ashtrays are emptied into a container that will not burn.

Heating Safety

? Chimney and furnace are cleaned and inspected yearly.

? Furniture and other items that can catch fire are at least 3 feet from fireplaces, wall heaters,   baseboards, and space heaters.

? Fireplace and barbecue ashes are placed outdoors in a covered metal container at least 3 feet from   anything that can catch fire.

? Extension cords are never used with space heaters.

? Heaters are approved by a national testing laboratory and have tip-over shut-off function.

Home Escape Plan

? Have two ways out of each room.

? Know to crawl low to the floor when escaping to avoid toxic smoke.

? Know that once you’re out, stay out. 

? Know where to meet after the escape.

? Meeting place should be near the front of your home, so firefighters know you are out.

? Practice your fire escape plan.

What is Black Mold?

9/26/2017 (Permalink)

What Is Black Mold?

Stachybotrys chartarum is the type of mold often called “black mold” or “toxic mold”. Sensational news reports warn about the dangers of black mold and these stories can be alarming and confusing. Any mold in your home should be treated with caution – stay out of affected areas and don’t touch or disturb the mold.

Please refer to our Mold Damage Tips to learn more about mold and what to do until help arrives. 

How Do I Tell If It’s Black Mold?

Since many types of mold can produce allergens and irritants, you should contact a qualified mold remediation company regardless of the color or type of mold. In many instances, multiple types of mold can exist in the same house or structure. If you suspect that you have a mold problem, contact a SERVPRO Franchise Professional immediately.

If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today

SERVPRO of Medford/Everett  781-395-4444

Understanding Mold

When water intrudes into your property, mold growth can start in as little as 48 hours. Consider the following mold facts:

  • Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold spores are microscopic, float along in the air, and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce toxins harmful to humans and pets.
  • Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise the mold may return.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor, and that odor can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
  • Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.

If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today

SERVPRO of Medford/Everett  781-395-4444

Oh My Gourd ~ World's Best Pumpkin Bread!!

9/26/2017 (Permalink)

It's that time of year when the weather starts to cool down, the leaves start changing and you can find everything pumpkin that we've missed since last fall.  What better way than to start off with a nice pumpkin bread.

World's Best Pumpkin Bread

Prep time:  5 mins

Cook time:  45 mins

Total time:  50 mins

Serves: 2 loaves

 Ingredients

  • 2 Cups Libby’s Pure Pumpkin
  • 3 Cups Sugar
  • 1 Cup Canola or Vegetable Oil
  • 2/3 Cup Water
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/3 Cups Flour
  • 2 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 5 tsp. Salt
  • 1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. Ground Nutmeg

Instructions

  1. Mix Pumpkin, Sugar, Oil, Water, and Eggs in large mixing bowl until well combined.
  1. In medium mixing bowl, combine Flour, Baking Soda, Salt, Cinnamon, and Nutmeg. Stir well, then gradually pour into large bowl of pumpkin mixture. Stir well to combine completely.
  1. Spray TWO 9×5 Non-stick Loaf Pans with Pam Cooking Spray.
  1. Pour mixture evenly into loaf pans.
  1. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 – 55 minutes, or until done and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

ENJOY!!

DISASTER PREPAREDNESS FOR OUR FURRY FRIENDS

9/15/2017 (Permalink)

Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep your pets safe, so the best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared. Here are simple steps you can follow now to make sure you’re ready before the next disaster strikes:

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. To get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home, please fill out our online order form and allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. 

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.

Step 5: Keep the ASPCA On-Hand at All Times

Help protect pets by spreading the word about disaster preparedness. Download, print and share FEMA’s brochure today. 

The free ASPCA mobile app shows pet parents exactly what to do in case of a natural disaster. It also allows pet owners to store vital medical records and provides information on making life-saving decisions during natural disasters.

FALL YARD CLEANING TIPS

8/25/2017 (Permalink)

Aaaah, autumn. The kids are headed back to school, the leaves are turning, and a chill is in the air. If you're like most homeowners, fall also means an opportunity to spruce up your yard and cut down on the work you'll need to do when the weather turns warm again.

It doesn't matter if you're a seasoned landscape professional or somebody who just wants their yard to look as good as it can with as little work as possible, everyone can benefit from backyard fall cleanup.  A little bit of work in the fall will really pay off when spring rolls around.

  • Rake those leaves. Once the snow flies, an unraked layer of leaves can get matted down over the turf and smother it all winter long. Raking or using a mulching mower in the fall helps avoid dead patches in the spring. But don't worry about getting every last leaf, especially in the garden. They help insulate plants, and as they decompose, they provide valuable nutrients.
  • Feed the grass. Fertilizing in the fall is like a day at the spa for your lawn. Using a slow-release fertilizer allows the grass to soak up nutrients and - just as important - spend the cool days and nights of autumn recovering from summer heat and stress. And building a healthy, rejuvenated lawn is one of the best ways to protect against heat, cold, drought, insects and other stresses.
  • Weed all about it. Weeding in the fall is probably the most valuable thing you can do to prepare for spring, and it's one that many people overlook. The good news: Pulling weeds used to be a backbreaking chore, but tools like the Weed Hound have come a long way from the tiny weeding forks of "the good old days." There's no reason to get down on your hands and knees and gouge at the turf. All you do is place the tool over the weed, step lightly on the footrest, and pull.
  • Remove thatch build-up. A build-up of aboveground roots called thatch prevents sunlight, oxygen and moisture from getting to the nutrient-hungry soil below. But it's easy to remove, especially if you don't wait until it overwhelms the yard. Just go at the yard with a dethatching rake in early fall, or for an easier - but more expensive - option, rent a power dethatcher.
  • Aerate. Heavy use throughout the summer can cause soil to become compacted. Perforating your lawn with small holes helps reduce compaction and lets water, air and fertilizer get down to the soil, which strengthens the grass plant's root structure. For smaller yards, a manual aerating tool that removes plugs from the turf while you step should be just fine. If you've got a larger yard, consider renting a power aerator.
  • Water trees and shrubs. Dehydration during the colder months is an all-too-common cause of tree damage, but it's easily preventable. To sustain them over the long winter, it's important to give trees a drink before putting them to bed. After they go fully dormant - but before the ground freezes - use a soaker hose or root irrigator to water them thoroughly.
  • Clean out your garden. Fruits and vegetables left in the garden can rot all winter long, and provide a comfy home for insect eggs. Gross? Not as gross as they'll be in the spring. Now's the time to get rid of diseased plants, too, but keep them out of the compost pile so the problem doesn't spread to the rest of your garden next year.
  • Plant spring bulbs. Fall is not all about closing up shop. It's also the perfect time to plant spring flowering bulbs like daffodils and tulips. But pay attention to the weather in your area; planting too early can cause bulbs to sprout before winter, and planting them too late can mean their roots don't have enough time to develop before the ground freezes.
  • Give your tools a tune-up. When it comes time to put away the backyard tools for the season, don't just shove them into the garage or shed. Spend a few minutes wiping them down and removing debris and dirt, then apply a light layer of oil to keep them from rusting over the winter. That way they'll be all set to go again come spring.

Old Man Winter may be on his way, but with a little work now, you can lay the groundwork for a happy, healthy backyard that's ready to thrive next season.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

5/9/2017 (Permalink)

Give your home a complete physical—inside and out—to ready it for those warm-weather months ahead.

EXTERIOR INSPECTION

Roof. You don’t need to climb up there yourself; with binoculars and a keen eye, you can probably spot trouble. Do you see any shingle-shift, suggesting that some fasteners may have failed and need replacing? Any cracked or missing shingles? What about nail-pops? “We call them eyebrows,” Niles explains. “It’s when nails push the tabs of the shingles up, allowing water to get in where those nails are coming through.” All will need to be addressed to keep your roof at peak performance.

Chimneys. If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones. Have any fallen out? Is there vegetation growing out of them? Each signals water infiltration. Also, look for efflorescence—”a white calcium-like deposit that indicates your masonry joints are no longer repelling water but absorbing it,” says Niles. Consider re-sealing masonry with a clear, impermeable or water-resistant barrier material (like Thoroseal products). Brush it on, small areas at a time; let it absorb for 15 minutes, then reapply—it may need a couple of applications.

Exterior Walls. Whether you have wood siding, stucco or brick, look for trouble spots, especially under eaves and near gutter downspouts. Water stains normally indicate that your gutters are not adequately containing roof runoff. If you have wood siding, check for openings, damaged areas or knots that have popped out, making way for carpenter ants, woodpeckers and other critters that may nest in or burrow through.

Foundations. When inspecting the exterior of your home, be sure to examine the foundation from top to bottom for masonry cracks. “Routine caulking by homeowners won’t do the job,” says Niles. “Hire a foundation specialist who can employ a two-part epoxy injection system that will bond cracks chemically,” he adds.

Windows. Leakage around windows will admit warm summer air and let cooled indoor air escape, so be sure to check that any caulking and weather stripping you have in place has remained intact. “A tight seal is the first line of defense against air and water,” says Marty Davis, marketing manager, Simonton Windows, Columbus, OH. If you experienced condensation inside the glass on double- or triple-glazed windows during the winter months, the weather seal has been compromised, and either the glass or the window will need to be replaced.

Spring-clean your windows—inside and out—with a store-bought or homemade window cleaner (one cup rubbing alcohol, one cup water and a tablespoon of white wine vinegar will work just fine) and either a squeegee or a soft cloth. Never use abrasive cleaners or a high-pressure spray washer. You don’t want to scratch the glass or crack the caulking around each unit. If screens were on all winter, remove and clean them with mild detergent. Lay them on a dry surface, like a driveway to air-dry before putting them back on. “Never power-wash screens,” urges Davis, “it could damage the mesh.”

INTERIOR MAINTENANCE

General Cleaning. Spring is a good time to clean areas of the house that often go neglected. Dust or vacuum chair rails, window casings, tops of wall-mounted cabinets and ceiling fans. Launder or dry-clean fabric draperies and use a damp cloth to clean wood and vinyl blinds. Vacuum upholstered furniture and mattresses and consider renting a carpet cleaner—anything you can do to remove settled dust, mites, and allergens will make for a cleaner, and healthier, home.

If you detect grease residue in the kitchen, consider washing cabinets, backsplashes and walls with warm water and mild detergent. The same is true in the bathroom, where soap residue and fluctuations in heat and humidity combine to create the perfect breeding ground for mold and mildew. While you’re cleaning tile, look for areas of worn or missing grout, as these may lead to more serious water damage if not repaired.

Air Conditioning. Just as you readied your furnace for fall, now is the time to make sure that air conditioning units are in good working order for the warmer months ahead. Change the filter, check hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely. In addition, vacuum any dust that has settled on the unit and connections; over time it can impact the air conditioner’s effectiveness. If you suspected problems with the efficiency or performance of the unit last summer, now is the time to call in a professional to check it out.

Attics. Search for signs that indicate insects and critters have colonized. Also, search aggressively for mold, which often takes the form of “gray or black blotches that look like staining,” according to Tim Gentry, vice president of technical services, DaVinci Roofscapes, Kansas City, KS. Proper insulation and good ventilation will deter mold growth in the attic, so take action now to prevent the problem from developing in the warmer months ahead.

Basements. The basement—prone to dampness and insects—must be part of any thorough seasonal maintenance effort. Dampness suggests higher than normal relative humidity, inadequate ventilation and the need for a dehumidifier. Check the base of poured-concrete walls. “Cracks start from the bottom up, not the top down,” Niles points out. “If there’s water penetration, it’ll show at the bottom of those cracks.” And be sure to use a flashlight to examine exposed framing. “If you see even a quarter-inch or so of tunneling on the wood,” says Niles, “call a pest control company immediately.”

Leaks. Spring is a good time to check for leaky faucets, clogged drains and sweaty pipes. Check under the kitchen and bathroom sink to make sure connections on pipes and hoses are properly sealed, and look for any wetness around the dishwasher that could signal an existing or potential problem. The same is true of your laundry room; check washer machine hoses for cracks, bulges or dampness. The same is true for hot water heaters, which may show sign of corrosion and leaks.

OUTDOORS

Lawns. Rake the lawn to remove any branches, debris and leaves that you might have missed in the fall; if left, they can suffocate the grass beneath. During the winter, soil compaction, along with chemical changes altering your soil’s PH, may have left your lawn vulnerable to weed growth and other issues. Even if you can’t see weeds, they are more than likely waiting for optimum conditions to propagate. If you want to prevent them from germinating, consider an organic herbicide; fertilizers are better suited to the fall.

Make sure outdoor water systems—pipes, faucets, and in-ground sprinkler systems—are in working order. Once the ground thaws completely, start preparing new garden beds for summer plants. And take stock of your garden tools and lawn-maintenance equipment, including lawn mowers, trimmers and hoses.

Decks and Patios. Look for warped, loose or splintered boards, and do a good sweep to remove any leaves and debris accumulated in the space between boards. “Whether it’s wood, plastic or composite, a deck should be cleaned every year to extend its life,” says Chuck Harris, owner, Custom Lumber Manufacturing Co., Dothan, AL. If the finish on your wood deck is faded or worn, now is the time to clean, stain, and reseal it. If you have composite decking, follow manufacturers’ recommendations on seasonal care. The same is true for wood and composite fences, pergolas, trellises and other structures. If you have a stone patio, a simple hose down provide be all the maintenance required (unless you detect moss or staining, in which case a more serious cleaning may be necessary).

Outdoor Furniture. If you stored your lawn furniture for the winter, bring it outdoors and give it a hose rinse, or wash it with a mild detergent. For metal furniture, check for signs of rust or paint erosion; a simple remedy of spray enamel will prevent further damage from sun, rain and humidity in the months ahead.

Grills. If your gas grill has remained idle over the winter months, check burner jets for clogs and obstructions, and be sure that gas hoses and connections are sound and secure. You’ll also want to check for propane. For charcoal grill owners, make certain your grill is clean of ash and free of grease residue. It’s a good habit to adopt throughout the grilling season, not just in the spring.

Hurricane Preparedness Week – May 7-13, 2017

5/9/2017 (Permalink)

Sunday, May 7th

Determine Your Risk

Find out today what types of wind and water hazards could happen where you live, and then start preparing now for how to handle them. Hurricanes are not just a coastal problem. Their impacts can be felt hundreds of miles inland. It’s easy to forget what a hurricane is capable of doing. The U.S. has not been directly impacted by a major hurricane (Category 3 or higher) in more than a decade. However, hurricanes such as Ike, Sandy and Isaac reminded us that significant impacts can occur without it being a major hurricane. Many people are suffering from hurricane amnesia in the forms of complacency, denial and inexperience. This remarkable hurricane streak is going to end, and we have to be ready for it to happen this season.

Monday, May 8th

Develop an Evacuation Plan

The first thing you need to do is find out if you live in a storm surge hurricane evacuation zone or if you’re in a home that would be unsafe during a hurricane. If you are, figure out where you’d go and how you’d get there if told to evacuate. You do not need to travel hundreds of miles. Identify someone, perhaps a friend or relative who doesn’t live in a zone or unsafe home, and work it out with them to use their home as your evacuation destination. Be sure to account for your pets, as most local shelters do not permit them. Put the plan in writing for you and those you care about.

Tuesday, May 9th

Assemble Disaster Supplies

You’re going to need supplies not just to get through the storm but for the potentially lengthy and unpleasant aftermath. Have enough non-perishable food, water and medicine to last each person in your family a minimum of one week. Electricity and water could be out for at least that long. You’ll need extra cash, a battery-powered radio and flashlights. Many of us have cell phones, and they all run on batteries. You’re going to need a portable, crank or solar powered USB charger.

Wednesday, May 10th

Secure an Insurance Check-up

Call your insurance company or agent and ask for an insurance check-up to make sure you have enough homeowners insurance to repair or even replace your home. Don’t forget coverage for your car or boat. Remember, standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding. Whether you’re a homeowner or renter, you’ll need a separate policy for it, and it’s available through your company, agent or the National Flood Insurance Program at www.floodsmart.gov. Act now as flood insurance requires a 30-day waiting period.

Thursday, May 11th

Strengthen Your Home

If you plan to ride out the storm in your home, make sure it is in good repair and up to local hurricane building code specifications. Many of these retrofits do not cost much or take as long to do as you may think. Have the proper plywood, steel or aluminum panels to board up the windows and doors. Remember, the garage door is the most vulnerable part of the home, so it must be able to withstand the winds.

Friday, May 12th

Check on Your Neighbor

Many Americans rely on their neighbors after a disaster, but there are also many ways you can help your neighbors before a hurricane approaches. Learn about all the different actions you and your neighbors can take to prepare and recover from the hazards associated with hurricanes. Start the conversation now with these Neighbor Helping Neighbor strategies

Saturday, May 13th

Complete Your Written Hurricane Plan

The time to prepare for a hurricane is before the season begins, when you have the time and are not under pressure. If you wait until a hurricane is on your doorstep, the odds are that you will be under duress and will make the wrong decisions. Take the time now to write down your hurricane plan. Know where you will ride out the storm and get your supplies now. You don’t want to be standing in long lines when a hurricane warning is issued. Those supplies that you need will probably be sold out by the time you reach the front of the line. Being prepared, before a hurricane threatens, makes you resilient to the hurricane impacts of wind and water. It will mean the difference between your being a hurricane victim and a hurricane survivor.