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Dishwasher Flooding

The standard dishwasher is a modern-day convenience many of us utilize with a great degree of satisfaction. This economical water-saver offers much relief when it comes to daily chores. In fact, Energy-Star rated dishwashers use, on average, as little as three gallons of water per load. On the other hand, washing dishes by hand consumes up to 27 gallons of water per load! Modern appliances like the handy dishwasher are a built-in time saver as well as an environmentally friendly machine.

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Dishwashers, like most kitchen appliances, are built to last. Many offer years upon years of convenience. On occasion, these dependable appliances have a tendency to leak or break, causing utter devastation within the kitchen. Not only is the automatic dishwashing convenience temporarily halted, but the damage that results can be an expensive fix.

Problems with Broken Dishwasher

The suds and dirty water that leak from a broken dishwasher can seep into your kitchen floorboards within minutes. Mold growth occurs within as little as 24 hours. So unless you detect the flood sooner rather than later, you’re in for a costly cleanup.

Periodically inspecting your handy dishwasher for leaks or potential problems is a tedious task, but one that will save you significant labor expenses and, perhaps, a high-cost replacement.

How to Prevent a Broken Dishwasher

The dishwasher is a tidy and prim device, with all the central hoses and components tucked neatly away inside. The appliance seems relatively uncomplicated. Checking your dishwasher takes a little familiarity with its inner workings. So where do you begin?

Inspect the Gasket

What is a gasket? The gasket is a rubber lining that keeps the suds and water from leaking out of your dishwasher anytime it operates. Easily check the functionality of the gasket with, first, a visual inspection for any obvious wear, and second, a piece of paper. Close the dishwasher door upon the paper. If the paper can be easily removed when the door is closed, a tight seal is not in place. Replace the gasket in this instance.

Notice the Water Level

In general, an operational dishwasher’s water level will remain at the lowest part of the dishwasher door. Upon running the dishwasher, if you notice the water level to be higher than the edge of the door when you open it just prior to the wash cycle, the float switch could be damaged; or, food particles may have clogged the strainer. Simply remove the strainer and thoroughly rinse it to remove any debris. If the water level continues to be high, replace the float switch.

Examine Both Hoses

Dishwashers come equipped with two hoses, one that fills and one that drains. Prior to inspecting the hoses, be sure to turn off the power to the dishwasher from the breaker box. You can check the hoses by removing the lower panel of your dishwasher. If you see any traces of wetness, the hoses may be too worn to operate efficiently. Significant water damage is likely to result over the long run. An additional method to check for the functionality of the hoses is to place a piece of paper underneath the hoses. If the paper becomes wet or saturated at any point, replace both hoses. Also check for and undo any kinks in the hose.

What to Do About a Flooded Dishwasher

An unexpected leak may spring if you do not perform periodic checks of the dishwasher’s internal mechanisms. Soapy suds that spread along the kitchen floor leave more than watery puddles to clean up. Developing mold spores are a cause for concern. Plus, in no way is it safe to step into a wet kitchen floor with a malfunctioning electrical appliance. The combination of electricity and water is extremely dangerous. All is not lost, when you are aware of the steps necessary to remediate the sudden mechanical failure.

Turn Off the Electricity

First, turn off the electricity to the kitchen. This safety precaution ensures that leaking water and electricity do not mix. Advise your family that the kitchen is off limits until the dishwasher is safe to use once again.

Shut off the Water

A quick reaction is necessary to prevent additional water damage to the flooring or paneling of surrounding cabinets in your kitchen. Find the waterline that works in conjunction with your dishwasher. You’ll likely locate this under the kitchen sink. Turn the valve clockwise completely to shut off the water to the dishwasher. Once the water source is turned off, take this time to examine the cause of the flooded dishwasher.

Mop Up Excess Water

Soak up any water that leaked onto your hardwood flooring, kitchen tiles or surrounding cabinetry. Hardwood flooring and wooden cabinets absorb water easily, creating a risky environment that encourages mold growth or discoloration and damage to surfaces, including swelling and warping. Swift action can prevent mold spores from contaminating the space as well as reduce other unfavorable conditions.

Call a Professional

Once water seeps deep into the kitchen flooring and cabinets, the resulting damage is difficult to remediate without professional help. Water damage restoration professionals are trained and experienced in all facets of water extraction and drying. Reputable companies like ServiceMaster by Restoration Contractors are immediately available to eliminate the standing floodwater that easily and effortlessly penetrates surfaces. Advanced water-extraction machinery is the most effective method used by trusted water damage restoration experts to thoroughly dry water-damaged areas, furnishings and structures.

When your dependable dishwasher suddenly interrupts your peace of mind with an unexpected leak, water damage restoration experts are a phone call away. Service technicians are available 24 hours a day in the event of emergencies to thoroughly remediate the results of any and all water damage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luke Armstrong. “Dishwasher Flooding: How to Prevent and React” Web blog post. Restoration guides, Restoration Master. 31 Oct 2017

 

How to protect yourself from hurricane repair scams.

Homeowners affected by Hurricanes Irma and Harvey have already absorbed a body blow from damaged homes and lost possessions.

Now, they’re bracing for another: repair scams.

After weather calamities, fraudsters — also known as “storm chasers” — exploit the severe strain on insurance companies. In affected cities, like Houston, due to the extent of damage, insurers have had to recruit independent claims adjusters, some from out of state. This gives scammers an opportunity to sell themselves to unsuspecting homeowners.

The overall bill will be steep: The cost of Irma and Harvey will range between $150 billion to $200 billion, including property damage and lost output.

While filing insurance claims, consumers should keep detailed records of communications, and be wary of potential scammers.

“If you find yourself in a situation where you signed the dotted line without checking with your insurance company first, give them a call,” Chris Hackett, senior director at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, told CNBC.

Government assistance is available

In the meantime, government agencies are stepping in. U.S. attorneys in four Florida districts have formed fraud task forces. The National Center for Disaster Fraud, formed in response to Hurricane Katrina, also has a hotline.

Also in Florida, the nonprofit Citizens Property United, which provides insurance for homeowners who can’t obtain private coverage, has warned policyholders to “be wary of unlicensed contractors or deals that sound too good to be true.”

Other organizations, such as the Better Business Bureau, make public consumers’ accounts of scams. Victims of fraud are encouraged to report incidents, too.

“It’s terrible that there are people who will take advantage of storm victims, but we see it all the time at BBB,” said spokeswoman Katherine Hutt. “Storm victims need to protect themselves and be vigilant.”

“If someone shows up at your house unannounced and claims to be an insurance adjuster, do not invite them into your home. Ask for company ID. If they don’t have any, ask them to leave your property and shut the door,” Hutt said. “If they do have identification, call your insurance company to verify. Don’t give them any information until you’ve confirmed their identity, and never give them any money.”

Beware that phony insurance adjusters and contractor scammers will frequently insert themselves between homeowners and insurance companies, according to Angie Hicks, co-founder and chief marketing officer of Angie’s List, a home-services consumer-review site.

For homeowners, here are some precautions to take:

  1. File a claim with your insurance company as soon as possible.
  2. Document the destruction. Take detailed, interior and exterior photos of your home, said Hicks.
  3. Don’t hire just any contractor or adjuster. “The first impulse might be to hire the first contractor who comes along,” Hackett said. Ask for proof of identity, Hicks said.
  4. Pay via credit card or check to create a paper trail. No cash.
  5. Pay for repairs incrementally. “Don’t pay for all work upfront before work begins,” Hackett said.
  6. Do your homework. Research consumer-review sites. Consult with trustworthy people — family, friends, neighbors — before hiring a contractor.
  7. Get several estimates on the cost of damages.
  8. Continue to pay your mortgage. Doing so protects your credit score and helps you avoid defaulting on a loan. Also ask your insurance agent and bank to explain what’s covered versus what’s negotiable. “These are extenuating circumstances, so ask for leeway on what is most important to you; the worst they can say is no,” Hicks said.
  9. Try to limit further damage. “Protect or repair what you can, but keep all receipts for materials to give to your adjuster,” Hicks said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Natalie Daher. “How to protect yourself from hurricane repair scams.” Web blog post. Personal Finance, CNBC. 20 Sep 2017. 26 Sep 2017. 

Removing Water From Your Home After A Flood.

Making a Flooded House into a Livable Home Again

House floods are terrible, catastrophic, and unfortunately, common in many parts of the world. The destructive power of water is amazing to behold from afar, but when it starts inching its way up to your doorstep or in though the basement, that same water becomes your nightmarish reality.

Flooded House

After the flood waters have receded, trying to pick up the pieces may seem daunting, but if you follow the right steps and put in some hard work, it’s not that hard to make your home liveable again. Here’s our guide to removing water from your home, and making it livable again.

Flood Water Contact Rules

Rule Number One: You should always assume that flood water is contaminated. This means that you need to wear appropriate gear when cleaning up your home and follow strict guidelines of how to deal with items that have come into contact with the water. Some of the most important rules to follow are:

  • Wear waterproof boots or waders and gloves.
  • Throw away any food (including canned goods) that have been in contact with flood water.
  • Disinfect after clearing away remaining water.
  • Clean and protect any bodily cuts.
  • Keep children and senior citizens away from flood water.
  • Bury any fecal matter you discover immediately.
  • Wash your hand thoroughly with soap before eating anything or touching your eyes and mouth.

Removing Flood Water from a Home

The first step when recovering from a flood is removing remaining water that is left inside your home. This can be done with a shop-vac or water pump that is specifically designed to suck up water, or it can be done the old-fashioned way with buckets. The key here is to get as much standing water out of your home as quickly you can.

If you decide to use a shop-vac, make sure you thoroughly read the instruction manual as you may need to remove the filter prior to use.

Maintaining a Drainage Environment

Although a flood will saturate a city or town’s drainage capacity, it will not be long before the infrastructure is capable of draining away remaining water. In order to utilize this, make sure that your home’s drains are clear of debris and that the water in and around your foundation has a clear path to the city sewage systems.

Additionally, it would be wise to make sure the street-gutters near your home are not blocked with debris. It’s very common for leaves and trash to accumulate around your drainage system in your street, preventing excessive amounts of water from draining in an efficient manner. If you keep this area clear of debris, the water will recede at a quicker pace.

Drying Out Your Home

Once all of the standing water has receded or been removed, you can begin the process of drying out your house and your possessions. Anything that can be removed from the house to dry in the sun (as long as it is not raining, obviously) should be removed immediately and set outside. If it is dry you should also open all of your home’s windows and doors to let the trapped moisture escape. It would also be wise to invest in an indoor dehumidifier to remove the evaporating moisture from your home.

A dehumidifier is the best tool you can use for this, but it would also be wise to put a couple of fans in the area to help speed up the drying process. The circulating air will help the drying process.

Looking for Trapped Mud or Water

Completely removing all trapped moisture will prevent mold and decay from causing serious problems for your home down the road. This is much easier said than done as you must remove baseboards, shower trays, and anything that has space beneath or behind it. Remove the mud you find and begin drying these areas immediately. Before replacing the fixtures, these spaces need to be completely dry.

The Risks of Allowing Trapped Moisture to Linger in Your Home

When looking at the flood waters bearing down on your home, the risks of floods are immediately apparent, but you might not be aware of how dangerous it is to let even a little moisture trapped in your home. Some of the risks of trapped water include:

  • Compromised Structural Integrity:

    Moisture locked in flooded home supports can cause the wood to rot, weakening its ability to hold up the weight of your house.

  • Illness Inducing Mold:

    Some molds can be deadly if they are left to grow in your home for too long. It is only after the surfaces of your house are completely dried that you can begin to bleach and clean up mold. If there is remaining moisture, mold will continue to grow.

  • Severely Depreciated Home Value:

    Although a flood will almost always make your house less valuable, you can minimize the loss by properly cleaning and drying out your home after a flood. If a prospective buyer finds that trapped water has created hazardous living conditions, it is highly unlikely that you will be able to sell your home when you wish to or for anywhere close to your asking price.

Home Sweet (and Dry) Home Again

By following the right steps, removing flood water from your home is easier than many people think. With the proper equipment, including a dehumidifier and water pump, you can make your home ready to live in even after something as terrible as a flood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jeff Flowers. How to Remove Water From Your Home After A flood. Web blog post.  Learning Center, Compact Appliance. 5 Feb 2014. 18 Sep 2017

Returning Home After A Hurricane.

Preparing to return home after evacuating will keep you safer while inspecting and cleaning up the damage to your home. Before traveling, ensure local officials have declared that it’s safe to enter your community and that you have the supplies you will need. Follow the suggestions below for returning to, inspecting and cleaning your home.

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(Photo: Survival Life )

Before Returning

  • Find out if it is safe to enter your community or neighborhood. Follow the advice of your local authorities.
  • Carry plenty of cash. ATMs may not work and stores may not be able to accept credit or debit cards.
  • Bring supplies such as flashlights, batteries, bottled water and non- perishable foods in case utilities are out.
  • Create back-up communication plans with family and friends in case you are unable to call from affected areas.
  • Plan for delays when traveling. Bring extra food, water, pillows, blankets and other items that will make the trip more comfortable. Keep the fuel tank of your vehicle as full as possible in case gas stations are crowded, out of fuel or closed.
  • Carry a map to help you route around heavy traffic or impassable roads.
  • Find out if local medical facilities are open and if emergency services are functioning again. Do NOT call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number to do this.
  • Understand that recovery takes time. Focus on the positive and have patience. Others will have similar frustrations.

First Inspection

  • If possible, leave children and pets with a relative or friend. If not, keep them away from hazards and floodwater.
  • Beware of snakes, insects and other animals that may be in or around your home.
  • Before entering your home, look outside for damaged power lines, gas lines, foundation cracks and other exterior damage. It may be too dangerous to enter the home.
  • If you smell natural gas or propane, or hear a hissing noise, leave immediately and contact the fire department.
  • If your home was flooded, assume it is contaminated with mold. Mold increases health risks for those with asthma, allergies or other breathing conditions.
  • Open doors and windows. If the house was closed more than 48 hours, let it air it out before staying inside for any length of time.
  • Turn the main electrical power and water systems off until you or a professional can ensure that they are safe. NEVER turn the power on or off, or use an electrical tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Check the ceiling and floor for signs of sagging. Water may be trapped in the ceiling or floors may be unsafe to walk on.

Cleaning Your Home

  • Be careful when moving furnishings or debris, because they may be waterlogged and heavier.
  • Throw out all food, beverages and medicine exposed to flood waters and mud, including canned goods and containers with food or liquid that have been sealed shut. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • Some cleaning solutions can cause toxic fumes and other hazards if mixed together. If you smell a strong odor or your eyes water from the fumes or mixed chemicals, open a window and get out of your home.
  • Throw out items that absorb water and cannot be cleaned or disinfected (mattresses, carpeting, cosmetics, stuffed animals and baby toys).
  • Remove all drywall and insulation that has been in contact with flood waters.
  • Clean hard surfaces (flooring, countertops and appliances) thoroughly with hot water and soap or a detergent.
  • Return to as many personal and family routines as possible.
  • Caution: Carbon Monoxide Kills
  • Never use a generator, grill, camp stove or other gasoline, propane, natural gas or charcoal-burning devices inside a home, garage, basement, crawlspace or any partially enclosed area. Locate unit away from doors, windows and vents that could allow carbon monoxide to come indoors.
  • The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.

Items to Take When Returning Home:

  • Government-issued photo ID and proof of address
  • Important phone numbers
  • Bottled water and non-perishable foods
  • First aid kit
  • Cleanser/hand cleaning gel for personal use
  • Hygiene products and toilet paper
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Long-sleeved shirts, long pants, sturdy waterproof boots and work gloves
    Flashlight, portable radio and extra batteries
  • Cameras for photos of damage for insurance claims

Using Generators Safely

  • When using a portable generator, connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator. Do not connect a portable generator to a home’s electrical system.
  • If you are considering getting a generator, get advice from a professional, such as an electrician. Make sure that the generator you purchase is rated for the power that you think you will need.
  • Wear protective clothing, including rubber gloves and rubber boots.

Let Your Family Know You’re Safe

If your community has experienced a flood, or any disaster, register on the American Red Cross Safe and Well Web site available through RedCross.org to let your family and friends know about your welfare. If you don’t have Internet access, call 1-866-GET- INFO to register yourself and your family.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

American Red Cross. “Returning Home After a Hurricane or Flood” Web blog post. Hurricane Central, The Weather Channel. 19 Sep 2014. 13 Sep 2017

Clean Up Safely After A Disaster

Highlights

  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures that have not been examined and certified by an inspector.
  • Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole cleanup work.
  • Carbon monoxide can cause illness and death.
  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected.
  • Never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.

When returning to your home after a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster protect yourself and your family by following these tips.

 

Reentering Buildings

  • Stay away from damaged buildings or structures until they have been examined and certified as safe by a building inspector or other government authority. You may want to wait to return to buildings during daylight hours, when it is easier to avoid hazards, particularly if the electricity is off and you have no lights.
  • Leave immediately if you hear shifting or unusual noises that signal that the structure may fall or if you smell gas or suspect a leak. If you smell gas, notify emergency authorities and do not turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that could cause a spark. Do not return to the house until you are told it is safe to do so.
  • Keep children and pets out of the affected area until cleanup has been completed.

General Safety Measures

  • Have at least two fire extinguishers, each with a UL rating of at least 10A, at every cleanup job.
  • Wear hard hats, goggles, heavy work gloves, and watertight boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank) for cleanup work.
  • Wear earplugs or protective headphones to reduce risk from equipment noise.
  • Use teams of two or more people to move bulky objects. Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person).
  • When using a chain saw, operate the saw according to the manufacturer’s instructions, wear appropriate protective equipment, avoid contact with power lines, be sure that bystanders are at a safe distance, and take extra care in cutting trees or branches that have gotten bent or caught under another object. Use extreme caution to avoid electrical shock when using an electric chain saw. For tips on safely operating a chain saw, see Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/chainsaws.html).
  • If there has been a backflow of sewage into your house, wear rubber boots, rubber gloves, and goggles during cleanup of the affected area.
  • In hot weather, try to stay cool by staying in air-conditioned buildings, taking breaks in shaded areas or in cool rooms, drinking water and nonalcoholic fluids often, and wearing light and loose-fitting clothing. Do outdoor activities during cooler hours. For more information on protecting yourself against heat-related illness, see the CDC Extreme Heat Web site(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/extremeheat/index.html).

Carbon Monoxide Exposure

  • Never use generators, pressure washers, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide—an odorless, colorless gas from these sources that can cause sudden illness and death—can build up indoors and poison the people and animals inside.

For more information, see Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/carbonmonoxide.html).

 

Mold and Cleanup

  • Remove and discard items that cannot be washed and disinfected (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all hard surfaces (such as flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures) with hot water and laundry or dish detergent.

See Mold After a Disaster(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/mold/), Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters and the CDC Flood Web site(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/floods/index.html) for further guidance on safely reentering flooded homes, cleaning up flood or storm water, worker safety issues, and mold cleanup issues.

Electrical Issues

  • If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off.
  • Never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Do not connect generators to your home’s electrical circuits without the approved, automatic-interrupt devices. If a generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard and it may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area.

 

Hazardous Materials Issues

  • Call the fire department to inspect or remove chemicals, propane tanks, and other dangerous materials.
  • Wear protective clothing and gear (for example, a respirator if needed) when handling hazardous materials.
  • Wash skin that may have come in contact with hazardous materials.
  • Wear insulated gloves and use caution if you have to remove a car battery. Avoid any acid that may have leaked from a car battery.

 

Hygiene and Infectious Disease Issues

  • After completing the cleanup, wash with soap and water. If there is a boil-water advisory in effect, use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing). Or you may use water that has been disinfected for personal hygiene use (solution of 1/8 teaspoon of household bleach per 1 gallon of water). Let it stand for 30 minutes. If the water is cloudy, use a solution of 1/4 teaspoon of household bleach per 1 gallon of water.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that were exposed to floodwater, wash them with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or ill.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.

Water Issues

  • If the building is flooded, the waters may contain fecal material from overflowing sewage systems and agricultural and industrial waste. Although skin contact with floodwater does not, by itself, pose a serious health risk, there is risk of disease from eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. (See also Clean Hands Save Lives: Emergency Situations(https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/handhygienefacts.html) .)
  • To reduce cold–related risks when standing or working in water which is cooler than 75 degrees F (24 degrees C), wear insulated clothes and insulated rubber boots, take frequent breaks out of the water, and change into dry clothing when possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Admin. “Fact Sheet: Clean Up Safely After a Disaster” Web blog post. Disasters, Clean up. Centers For Disease Control And Prevention. 30 Aug 2017, 12 Sep 2017.

How To Prepare An Emergency Kit.

Hurricane Irma could hit the United States by this weekend, meaning now is the time for coastal residents — along both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico — to prepare.

Irma strengthened to a Category 5 storm Tuesday morning, the National Hurricane Center said, with sustained winds of 175 mph.

AccuWeather meteorologist Dave Samuhel issued a warning on Monday: “Have emergency supplies ready.”

Here’s what to pack in an emergency kit and additional steps to take ahead of a hurricane, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

Emergency kits should combine basic staples (food, water) with supplies reflecting your family’s unique needs, such medications or baby formula.

Water: First and foremost, store at least three gallons of water per person — enough to last each three days. If you think you’ll be cut off longer, add an extra gallon per person per day.

Cash: Banks and ATMs could shut down. Power outages render debit and credit cards useless.

Documents: Keep copies of key documents in a waterproof, easy-to-carry container. These include identification such as passports and Social Security cards as well as insurance policies and bank account records.

Medications: Keep a one-week supply of prescription medications plus any over-the-counter items like pain relievers and antacids.

Food: Lay in a three-day supply of canned foods and dry mixes — nothing that needs refrigeration. Avoid thirst-inducing foods, and remember the dietary needs of those around you, including infants (ready-to-feed formula) and pets. Secure a hand-operated can opener.

Sanitation: Think moist towelettes, garbage bags and diapers. Consider paper goods such as plates and cups as well as plastic utensils.

Backup phone batteries: Extra batteries for your devices, also called portable power banks, could prove essential in a power outage. Here’s how to prep your smartphone for disasters.

Additional items: Flashlights with spare batteries, blankets, a first aid kid and NOAA weather radios are all recommended.

FEMA offers an extensive printable checklist for all-purpose emergency supply kits, too.

The agency also recommends tailoring supplies to whether you plan to evacuate or stay put at home, and to sign up for local alerts (just Google your city or country name plus “alerts”).

 

 

 

Josh Hafner, USA TODAY. Hurricane Irma: How to prepare an emergency kit. web blog post. News, USA Today. 5 Sep. 2017

Prepare For The Storm.

Trim trees. Flying branches and falling trees are some of the most common — and expensive — causes of damage during hurricane season. And you may get stuck with a big chunk of the bill. Your homeowners insurance policy will generally cover damage to your home caused by trees, but it usually pays no more than $500 to $1,000 for tree removal, even though it can cost a few thousand dollars to clean up a fallen tree (see When a Tree Falls in Your Neighbor’s Yard for more information about insurance and fallen trees). Bob Welther, assistant vice-president of the risk consulting group for insurer ACE Private Risk Services, recommends having an arborist come out each spring to inspect the trees near your home to identify any branches that could come crashing down.

Clean gutters and waterproof your house. Remove leaves and other debris from your gutters, which can clog them and send water pouring down the side of your house or under the roof. And check for cracks that could let water into your house. Welther recommends that you inspect your roof and make sure none of the shingles or tiles are damaged and that the vents are all sealed so wind-driven rain won’t enter your house.

Get a backup sump pump. Last week’s rains reminded people how important it can be to have a good sump pump, especially if you have a finished basement. If your sump pump stops working or gets overloaded, the water could pour into your house — and the damage may not be covered by insurance (see below). Have a battery backup for your sump pump, in case the electricity goes out. Even better, says Welther, is to add a battery-powered sump pump as a second pump, which gives you twice the capacity.

Secure your yard. The grading of your yard can determine whether storm water runs away from your home or into it. Damage from water that seeps through your walls or floors may not be covered by your homeowners insurance policy. Also, secure lawn furniture and other outdoor items before a storm arrives, so strong winds don’t turn them into projectiles.

Consider installing storm shutters. Storm shutters can do a lot to protect your home from hurricanes and other big storms. You’ll need time to buy them and have them installed, so don’t wait until the last minute. Contact your homeowners insurer first to see what kind of shutters you would need to qualify for a discount on your premiums. Also see Protect Your Home in a FLASH, from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, for other home improvements that can protect your home from hurricanes, and you can get other ideas by entering your zip code at DisasterSafety.org for a list of common risks in your area and advice to help you protect your home.

Prepare a disaster kit. Put together an emergency kit that can help if you lose electricity during a storm. It should consist of a battery-operated radio (and extra batteries), flashlights and a landline phone that isn’t cordless (so you don’t depend on power from your electric utility). Keep some extra cash in case ATMs are on the blink for a while, and keep a phone charger in your car. The Red Cross also recommends stocking a three-day supply of food and water for everyone in your house, a first-aid kit and a seven-day supply of medications. See 7 Must-Haves for Your Emergency Kit and the Red Cross Store for pre-made emergency kits. Also see FEMA’s fact sheet on building a disaster-supplies kit.

Prepare a “go kit.” Put together a box or file that you can grab quickly if evacuated, including your insurance policies, contact information for your insurance company, agent and other emergency contacts, your home inventory, extra keys, powers of attorney, and other important financial and personal records, says Welther.

Consider a generator. Keeping the electricity running during a power outage can also help protect your home — by powering your alarm system, sump pump and air conditioning. You may even get a 5% discount on your homeowners insurance if you install an automatic standby generator, which runs on natural gas or propane and turns on automatically after detecting a power outage. See The Costs, Benefits of a Generator for more information.

Get coverage for sewage backups. It isn’t unusual for heavy rains to overburden the storm water system or for your sump pump to stop working during storm season, causing water or sewage to back up into your house. The damage can be smelly and expensive, especially if you have a finished basement. Sewage-backup coverage isn’t included in most homeowners policies, but you can generally buy a rider that costs about $50 to $75 to provide $10,000 to $20,000 of sewage-backup coverage (ACE and some other high-end insurers do cover sewage backup with their standard policies). Ask your agent or insurer whether you’re covered.

 

Make sure you have the right amount of insurance. Let your insurance company know about any home improvements that affect the cost to rebuild your home. Some insurers send an appraiser to your house to help estimate the replacement cost of your home; other agents or insurers will accept detailed information about the upgrades over the phone. You can also get an estimate of rebuilding costs at AccuCoverage.com (the service costs $7.95). See Check Up on Your Home Insurance for more information. You can also get advice from the Insurance Information Institute, at www.iii.org.

 

 

 

KIMBERLY LANKFORD. 12 Ways To Prepare For Storm Season. Web blog post. Insurance. Kiplinger. 5 May 2014. 15 August 2017

How to Prepare For A Hurricane.

Your level of preparation before a hurricane can determine how well you weather the storm and how quickly you recover from it. You should start preparing your home, inside and out, long before a storm is in the forecast. In the end, you can never be too prepared when it comes to protecting your loved ones and your property from extreme weather events such as hurricanes.

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(Photo: Online Insurance)

follow the Forecast

You may hear the terms “hurricane watch” and “hurricane warning” in your local forecast. Understanding the difference between them is essential to helping you prepare for a hurricane. As soon as a hurricane watch or warning is forecast for your area, it is important, depending on the type of alert, to immediately begin or complete your preparations.

A watch means hurricane conditions are possible within 48 hours. You should begin to stock up on emergency supplies in the event a warning is issued. If you live in a coastal area, you also should be prepared to evacuate.

A warning is more serious. Hurricane-force winds (74 mph or higher) are expected to hit your area within 36 hours. You should seek shelter or evacuate, if notified to do so.
General Hurricane Preparation Tips

  • Prepare a survival kit that includes items such as water and non-perishable food for everyone, including your pets; medications; a portable radio; flashlights; batteries; and battery chargers for your cell phones and other portable electronic devices, which can be powered by your car.
  • Plan your evacuation route and leave as soon as an evacuation order is issued. Also, fuel up your car before you leave.
  • Build a content inventory of the items in your home or at your business.
  • Secure all outdoor objects or move them inside. Close your home’s storm shutters and board up windows and glass doors as appropriate.
  • If possible, bring in gas or charcoal grills, but do not use them indoors. Also, do not store propane tanks inside the house or garage. Chain propane tanks in an upright position to a secure object away from your home.
  • Secure your boat or move it to a safer place.
  • Fill your emergency generator fuel tank, if you have one, and have spare fuel on hand. Store generator fuel in an approved container in a garage or shed, away from open flames, heat sources and appliances such as natural gas appliances.

Five Tips to Help Prepare Your Home for a Hurricane

1. Help Avoid Water Damage

Heavy rains have the potential to cause significant water damage. These tips can help you prepare your home.

Closing and locking all windows and doors and removing any window air conditioners.

Removing valuable items from your basement or elevating them off of the floor.

Clearing debris from exterior drains and gutters.

Repairing damaged gutters and downspouts to make sure water can drain away from your foundation.

Checking your sump pump and the battery backup to confirm they are working properly.

2. Monitor Your Trees

In a powerful windstorm, trees can be a hazard. Broken limbs or fallen trees — even uprooted shrubbery — could damage your home and fences, or your neighbor’s property.

Routinely maintain the trees around your home.

Prune tree limbs within 10 feet of your home.

Check for cracking or splitting in trees.

Remove dead limbs and weakened trees.

3. Roofs, Doors, Windows and Skylights

It is important to keep wall openings, such as doors, windows and skylights protected. The roof, doors and windows of your house are especially vulnerable to wind damage. When houses are exposed to hurricane force winds, roofs are most susceptible to damage, followed by walls and openings such as skylights.

4. Secure Outdoor Items

If you live in an area that experiences high winds, outdoor items around your property that are not properly anchored can become airborne and cause damage.

If high winds are expected in your area, move as many outdoor items indoors well before the high winds arrive. As mentioned earlier, do not store propane tanks in your home or garage.

Adequately secure any remaining outdoor items that cannot be safely moved to protected areas.

5. Strengthen Your Exterior Structure

During a windstorm, wind forces are carried from the roof down to the exterior walls and then to the foundation. Homes can be damaged when wind and wind-driven water gets under the building’s exterior walls if proper controls are not in place.

Strengthen exteriors by employing a contractor to:

  • Install hurricane straps to reinforce roof-to-wall and wall-to-foundation connections.
  • Retrofit soffits to help ensure they remain in place in high winds.
  • Properly brace roof trusses.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“How to Help Prepare for a Hurricane.” Web blog post. Prepare & prevent, Hurricanes. Travelers. 28 July 2017

 

Flood Damage Prevention

While fire may be a more common concern among homeowners, your home could in fact be as much as ten times more likely to be damaged by water than by fire. Significant sources of water damage to one’s property can come from weather-related moisture or flooding, including flooding from heavy rains, flash floods, dam and levee failures, tidal storm surges and mudflows. In addition, new construction of buildings, roads or bridges can alter the flow of water, increasing the potential for flooding.

Living in a high-risk flood zone can increase the likelihood of experiencing a flood, but being outside a high-risk zone does not mean homeowners are safe; flooding is always a possibility.

flood damage outside a home

(Photo credit: Travelers)

 

Protecting Your Property Before, During and After a Flood

There are a number of things you can do to help minimize or prevent water damage to your property. Follow these tips to help prepare and recover from potentially costly flood damage.

Before the Flood:

Know your properties flood zone risk and evaluate your flood risk with this reference guide from IBHS.

Have your furnace, water heater and other permanent equipment elevated above the expected flood levels of your area.

Inspect sump pumps and drains regularly to ensure proper operation.

If you own a generator, have a licensed electrician provide a transfer switch to your sump pump so you can operate it in the event of flooding.

To help prevent sewage backup, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow prevention valve.

Keep sandbags on hand to help divert unusually high water away from your foundation.

In snowy climates, flag drains to avoid plowing snow on top of them.

Learn the flood alert signals of your community.

Collect emergency building materials if you live in a frequently flooded area. These may include plywood, plastic sheeting, lumber, nails, shovels and sandbags.

Plan and practice an evacuation route. Designate a place for family members to meet in the event they become separated.

Review with all family members how to shut off utilities in an emergency.

Plan a survival kit with important documents, including insurance documents, medications and critical items in the event you need to leave your home.

During the Flood:

Listen to a battery-operated radio or television for the latest storm information. If advised to evacuate, shut off all utilities and evacuate immediately.

Move to high ground, avoid rising waters and do not walk or drive through any floodwaters.

Stay away from downed power lines and electrical wires.

After the Flood:

Listen to the radio and do not return home until authorities indicate it is safe to do so.

Once allowed back into your home, inspect it for damage. If your property has been damaged, promptly report the loss.

Be watchful of snakes that may have found their way into your home.

Throw away all food that has come in contact with floodwaters.

Remove standing water as quickly as possible, including from your basement. If your basement is flooded, pump out about 1/3 of the water per day to avoid structural damage.

Properly dry or remove soaked carpets, padding and upholstery within 24-48 hours after a flood to prevent mold growth. Discard anything that cannot be properly dried.

Wash and disinfect all areas that have been flooded. This includes walls, floors, closets and shelves, as well as heating and air-conditioning systems. Do not energize electrical or electronic equipment that may have suffered water damage without first having a qualified electrician inspect and/or test it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Flood Damage Prevention”. Web blog post. Prepare & Prevent, Flooding. Travelers. 28 July 2017.

 

How Flood Zones And Evacutaion Zones Differ.

Flood zones, evacuation zones, and storm surge are different. They measure different conditions that may not occur at the same time, are determined by different methods, and have different purposes. A home may be located in a non-evacuation zone, yet still be located in a flood zone because of a nearby stream or pond. Residents are advised to check all of them to learn what your flood risk is.

Image result for flood zone sign
(photo credit: Structural Solutions of NJ)
 

Definitions:

Flood zones are areas mapped by FEMA for use in the National Flood Insurance Program. Each flood zone designation, represented by a letter or letters, tells homeowners what the risk is for flooding at their property over a period of years, regardless of the cause. High risk areas, referred to as Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) are shown on the map as zones labeled with the letters A or V. By law, all homes in high-risk zones carrying a mortgage must be covered by flood insurance.

Visit the Pinellas County Flood Map Service Center to find out what your risk is.

Evacuation zones are based on hurricane storm surge zones determined by the National Hurricane Center using ground elevation and the area’s vulnerability to storm surge from a hurricane. The evacuation zones are marked from A through E, plus non-evacuation zones. Visit the Know your Zone Evacuation Level Lookup to find out what zone you are in.

 Storm Surge flooding occurs when an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm is pushed toward the shore by strong winds. If you are susceptible to storm surge, flood insurance is recommended, even if you are not located in a FEMA flood zone.

Current Water Levels in a nearby waterbody can help you predict when flooding might occur during a rain or tropical event.

 

Understand flood insurance

Much of Pinellas County is prone to flooding, so you should get flood insurance for your home, business, or rental. Regular homeowner’s or tenant’s insurance do not cover losses due to flooding. Flood insurance covers you for damage to your home, business and contents due to surface accumulation of water from inland or tidal flooding and erosion due to flooding. Don’t assume that you’re safe from flooding just because you live on an upper level in a condo building. If a severe flood wipes out the ground floor of your building, all of the other units in the building (including your own) may become uninhabitable as well.

If you are looking at buying a property, it is a good idea to check out the possible flood hazards before you buy. Most homeowners insurances do not cover flood damage. Talk to your insurance provider about your policy and consider if you need additional coverage.

 

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“Flood Information.” Web blog post.  Pinellas County Flood Information. Pinellas County Florida. 28 July 2017.