Preparing your Pets for Emergencies
If you are like millions of animal owners nationwide, your pet is an important member of your household. The likelihood that you and your animals will survive an emergency such as a fire or flood, tornado or terrorist attack depends largely on emergency planning done today. Some of the things you can do to prepare for the unexpected, such as assembling an animal emergency supply kit and developing a pet care buddy system, are the same for any emergency. Whether you decide to stay put in an emergency or evacuate to a safer location, you will need to make plans in advance for your pets. Keep in mind that what’s best for you is typically what’s best for your animals.
If you must evacuate, take your pets with you if possible. However, if you are going to a public shelter, it is important to understand that animals may not be allowed inside. Plan in advance for shelter alternatives that will work for both you and your pets.
Make a back-up emergency plan in case you can’t care for your animals yourself. Develop a buddy system with neighbors, friends and relatives to make sure that someone is available to care for or evacuate your pets if you are unable to do so. Be prepared to improvise and use what you have on hand to make it on your own for at least three days, maybe longer.
Prepare Your Home for an Emergency
Planning for any emergency requires considering all likely scenarios that could result when things that you rely on daily- such as electricity, water, heat, air conditioning, telephone services and transportation- are disrupted or lost for a considerable amount of time. Consequently, you should plan on having food, water, and other essential goods to get you through the emergency. Most emergency management planner suggests having enough supplies to last you and your family for three to five days for weather -related events. However, many things may affect you decision, including storage space, special needs, number of people I the household and available resources.
The basic items that should be stored in your home include water, food, first aid supplies, clothing and bedding, tools, emergency supplies, and specialty items. Keep the items that you would most likely need at home in one easy-to-carry container such as a plastic storage bin, backpack, or duffel bag. Store it in a convenient place and put a smaller version in your car. Remember to change the stored water and rotate the food supplies every six months (place dates on the containers). Check the supplies and re-evaluate your needs every year. Consult your physician or pharmacist about storing medications, and maintain a current list of your family’s prescription needs.
Tornado Safety - what YOU Can Do!
Before the Storm:
- Develop a plan for you and your family for home, work, school, and when outdoors.
- Have frequent drills
- Know the county in which you live, and keep a highway map nearby to follow storm movements from weather bulletins.
- Have a NOAA All Hazards Weather Radio with a warning alarm tone and batter back-up to receive warnings.
- Listen to radio and television for information
- If planning a trip outdoors, listen to the latest forecasts and take necessary action if threatening weather is possible.
If a Tornado Warning is issued or if threatening weather approaches
- In a home or building, move to a pre-designated shelter, such as a basement.
- If an underground shelter is not available, more to an interior room or hallway on the lowest floor and get under a sturdy piece of furniture.
- Stay away from windows
- Do not try to out run a tornado in your car: get out of your car immediately and seek nearby safe shelter in a sturdy building.
- Mobile homes, even if tied down, offer little protection from tornadoes and should be abandoned.
- If in open country and no shelter is available, lie flat and face down on low ground protecting the back of your head with your arms. Get as far away as possible from trees and cars, as they can be blown onto you.
WHAT TO DO UNTIL HELP ARRIVES
- Shut off the source of water if possible or contact a qualified party to stop the water source
- Turn off circuit breakers for wet areas of the building, when access to the power distribution panel is safe from electrical shock.
- Remove as much excess water as possible by mopping and blotting.
- Wipe excess water from wood furniture after removing lamps and tabletop items.
- Remove and prop up wet upholstery cushions for even drying.
- Place aluminum foil or wood blocks between furniture legs and wet carpeting.
- Remove to a safe, dry place any paintings, art objects, computers, documents and other materials that are valuable or sensitive to moisture.
- Use wooden clothespins to keep furniture skirting off damp floors.
- Hang draperies with coated hangers to avoid contact with with carpeting or floors.
- Hang furs and leather goods to dry separately at room temperature.
Water Heater Maintenance
Water heaters work hard for you, providing warm baths, clean clothes, and sparkling pots and pans. So show your water heater some love by following a routine maintenance schedule that will keep it running for its 15-year expected lifetime, and perhaps beyond.
Adjust the thermostat to 120 degrees. You’ll save up to 5% in energy costs for every 10 degrees you lower the temperature, plus you’ll reduce the risk of scalding.
Always maintain 2 feet of clearance around the appliance unless the manual specifically states otherwise.
Drain about a quarter of the tank a few times a year to remove sediment and debris. Turn off the cold water supply, hook up a garden hose to the drain valve, then run into a bucket until the water is clear. If the water remains cloudy, briefly open the water supply valve to stir up remaining sediment, and drain the tank again. This also makes the unit operate more quietly.
Is your building sick?
Sick building syndrome (SBS) is a medical condition where people in a building suffer from symptoms of illness or feel unwell for no apparent reason. The symptoms tend to increase in severity with the time people spend in the building, and improve over time or even disappear when people are away from the building. The main identifying observation is an increased incidence of complaints of symptoms such as headache, eye, nose, and throat irritation, fatigue, and dizziness and nausea. These symptoms appear to be linked to time spent in a building, though no specific illness or cause can be identified. SBS is also used interchangeably with "building-related symptoms", which orients the name of the condition around patients rather than a "sick" building. A 1984 World Health Organization report suggested up to 30% of new and remodeled buildings worldwide may be subject of complaints related to poor indoor air quality.
Sick building causes are frequently pinned down to flaws in the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems. However, there have been inconsistent findings on whether air conditioning systems result in SBS or not. Other causes have been attributed to contaminants produced by out gassing of some types of building materials, volatile organic compounds, molds, improper exhaust ventilation of ozone, light industrial chemicals used within, or lack of adequate fresh-air intake/air filtration.
In addition to normal accumulations of dust and dirt found in all homes with air ducts, there are several other factors that can increase the need for regular HVAC system cleaning:
- occupants with allergies or asthma
- cigarette or cigar smoke
- water contamination or damage to the home or HVAC system
- home renovation or remodeling projects
- Some occupants are more sensitive to these contaminants than others. Allergy and asthma sufferers, as well as young children and the elderly tend to be more susceptible to the types of poor indoor air quality that air duct cleaning can help address.
Indoor air quality is one concern that homeowners have when they decide to investigate air duct cleaning. Your heating and cooling system is the lungs of your home. The system takes air in and breathes air out.
Through normal occupation in a home, we generate a great deal of contaminants and air pollutants, such as dander, dust, and chemicals. These contaminants are pulled into the HVAC system and re-circulated 5 to 7 times per day, on average. Over time, this re-circulation causes a build-up of contaminants in the duct work.
While dirty ducts don’t necessarily mean unhealthy air in your home, school or workplace, they may be contributing to larger health issues or harboring contaminants that could cause serious problems for people with respiratory health conditions, autoimmune disorders or some environmental allergies.
In 2018, the most recent year statistics are available, 1,319,500 fires were reported in the United States. These blazes caused 3,430 deaths and 14,670 civilian injuries while costing more than $23.6 billion in damage! Though some fires are unavoidable acts of nature or unpredictable accidents, many fires in the home and workplace are avoidable. The following tips, courtesy of the National Fire Protection Association, can help reduce the likelihood of a fire in your business or home.
1 Watch your cooking - Stay in the kitchen if you are frying, grilling or broiling food. Never allow young children around the stove or oven, especially if they are not closely attended.
2 Give space heaters space - Keep space heaters at least three feet from anything that can burn.
3 Smoke outside - If you must smoke inside, have a sturdy, deep ashtray. Never smoke in bed.
4 Keep matches and lighters out of reach - Keep matches and lighters in high cabinets, preferably under a child lock.
5 Inspect electrical cords - Replace cords that are cracked, damaged, have broken plugs or have loose connections.
6 Be careful when using candles - Keep candles at least one foot from anything that can burn. Blow them out before you leave the room or go to sleep.
7 Have a fire escape plan - Make a fire escape plan and practice it at least twice a year.
8 Install smoke alarms - Install alarms on every level of your office or home and inside bedrooms. Interconnect them so they all sound at once.
9 Test smoke alarms - Test alarms once per month. Replace batteries once per year or as needed.
10 Install sprinklers - Sprinklers can help maintain and sometimes even extinguish fires, giving your local fire department a better chance of saving your property.
FLOOD TIPS AND ACTION STEPS
AFTER A FLOOD
SAFETY FIRST (For businesses and home owners)
- Account that all employees or family members are safe by establishing evacuation plans in advance, identifying areas outside the building that are designated meeting places. Assign select individuals to keep a list of their assigned team’s names and contact numbers in order to account for their whereabouts.
- If water enters the building and evacuation becomes impossible, move to an upper floor, and wait for rescuers.
- While evacuating, avoid attempting to drive through floods or rising water, nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are auto-related.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
- Do not walk through moving water. Even six inches of moving water can make you fall.
- Use no open flames (there may be gas escaping from ruptured mains).
- Avoid floodwaters. Water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged. If the water has entered the structure through the flooding of a creek, stream or river, or if it has filtered through insulation during its intrusion, it is considered to be black water and could be hazardous to your health. Avoid contact with contaminated items as much as possible.
- Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
- Listen for news reports to learn if the community’s water supply is safe to drink.
- Return only when authorities indicate it is safe.
SECURE THE PROPERTY
- Contact local emergency officials.
- Secure main entrances to building.
- Alert Security company and Alarm company of the situation.
STABILIZE THE PROPERTY
- Open basement or low-level windows to equalize water pressure on the building’s foundation and walls.
- Begin water damage mitigation steps only if local emergency officials deem the structure safe to enter.
- Notify your insurance agent or Risk Manager to determine insurance policy guidelines and steps to take.
Who let the deer in?
Who let the deer in?
A true story ...We got a call from a panicked customer who had just returned from being out of town for a few days. She found a juvenile white tailed deer had jumped through a window in her basement. The deer was still alive, but disoriented enough to not know how to get out of the house. Additionally, the deer, in its rummaging around through the kitchen area of the basement, had jumped on the counter tops and managed to turn the water on in the kitchen sink. Before long, the basement floor was full of water and one very confused deer. When we arrived on the scene 20 minutes later, the owner had coaxed the deer out of the house. That's when we went to work cleaning up blood, urine and hundreds of gallons of water. Shortly thereafter, we fired up our equipment and dried out the entire basement.