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Flood Preparation Tips to Keep You Safe

Flood Preparation Tips to Keep You Safe

Even if you’re a swimming enthusiast, dealing with a flash flood is no day at the beach. In fact, the results can be catastrophic.

Floods can happen any time of year in any part of the country. However, some areas are more prone to flooding, like coastal areas during hurricane season or any low lying land next to a body of water during a long storm or heavy rain season.

Flood Preparation Tips to Keep You Safe

Regardless of where you’re located, it always pays to be prepared if a flood warning comes your way. Whether it’s expected to be a few inches or to reach above your roof, here are some ways you and your family can keep safe in the face of an impending flood:

Know Your Flood Risk

The most important part of flood safety is knowing beforehand the risk of flooding for your home or area. FEMA creates flood maps that display flood areas coded by risk, ranging from high to undetermined. Check your area on a floodmap to learn more about what to expect when a flood warning is issued in your area.

Stay Informed

If your area is prone to flooding, know which channels to monitor for weather updates so you can prepare with ample warning. Follow NOAA radio as well as your local weather station, and sign up for a community email or text alerting system. Keep a battery operated radio with some extra batteries and your cell phone fully charged so you can still receive updates in the event of a power outage.

Practice Your Flood Plan

In a high-stress natural disaster like flooding, all your careful planning could go out the window without a set practice in place. Discuss and practice details of your flood plan with your family, including your communication plan, first aid skills and emergency response actions. If you have pets, know some basic pet first aid and keep a pet emergency kit on hand.

Store Your Necessities

When it comes to floods, there’s no telling how much warning you may have before needing to evacuate. Prepare ahead of time by putting together all of your necessities so you can grab and go in case you need you get out quickly. Keep in mind the five P’s for what bring: People, Prescriptions, Papers, Personal Needs and Priceless Items.

Protect Your Property

Consider purchasing flood insurance if you don’t have it already. Most policies do not cover flood losses for areas not commonly at risk for flooding, so you may need to purchase the extra protection in a separate insurance plan. Policies take effect 30 days after purchase, so invest as soon as possible if necessary.

Take Precautions

Take measures to protect your property and valuables by elevating heating systems, water heaters, electric panels, appliances and furniture if possible. Waterproof your basement and home by using sandbags, plywood and plastic sheeting. Keep drains and gutters free of debris and install sump dumps with battery backup.

Consult With Others

Open discussion with family members and friends on what they’ve done to prepare for a flood will help you cross check your plans and share details about alerts and other ways to protect your property. Review websites like the FEMA or The American Red Cross for additional ways to stay protected and safe during floods.

Evacuate

If authorities are advising that you evacuate in the face of an impending flood, do so immediately. Have a flood evacuation route in place and be sure to grab all of the necessities you’ve stored earlier so you and your family can get on the road quickly and safely. Make the proper arrangements to travel with any pets or animals that you plan to bring along, including checking with shelters you may stay in to ensure they are pet-friendly. If you have time before evacuating, take extra precautions before leaving your home, like moving items to a higher floor, turning off gas, water and electricity and placing sandbags around your property.

Now that you know what to do in the face of an impending flood, your response time should be quick and your family should be safe. A little preparation goes a long way, so follow these tips the next time a potential flood warning pops up in your area.

Tips To Protect Your Home From Disasters

Tips To Protect Your Home From Disasters

There’s never a good time for a disaster to strike your home. You can, however, be prepared for when the unexpected happens. Here are action steps you can take now to better protect your home from disasters.

Routine Maintenance

When it comes to fire damage, most fires are caused by electrical malfunctions. Prevent fires from ever happening by making sure all electrical cords are in excellent condition. This is one thing duct tape can’t fix.  If you have exposed wires, call an electrician to take care of the problem. Additionally, check to make sure all major appliances are plugged directly into wall outlets and not power strips or extension cords. For smaller electronics, invest in power strips that have surge protection.

Get your roof inspected regularly to insure that your roof is in excellent condition before bad weather hits. Keep your trees properly trimmed. Make sure branches are not hanging precariously over your roof.  Keep your gutters clean as they help prevent foundation issues caused by oversaturation.

Regularly check for leaks in your pipes. If there’s a leak, call a plumber to take care of it. A little leak can cause a lot of damage over time. If you will be away from your home for an extended period of time, consider shutting your water off altogether and draining the water present in the pipes. You can also invest in covers for outdoor faucets and tube pipe insulation for exposed pipes inside of the home. Both are handy for preventing pipes from bursting due to frigid conditions.

Be Prepared

No matter how well you maintain your home, disaster can strike. Here are a few supplies and strategies to have on hand when those happen:

  1. Have a water and fire-proof safe for important documents.
  2. Know where the main water valve is for your home and how to properly shut it off.  There’s nothing like coming home to water flowing from a burst pipe. It would be even worse if you didn’t know how to take care of it.
  3. Invest in a wet/dry vacuum. Having one of these on hand in the event of flooding decreases the chance of damage and mold. You’ll want to get to work right away pulling the water out of your home.

No one wants a disaster but there are ways to lessen the effects. If you keep your home properly maintained and have a few tools on hand when disaster comes knocking on your door, you’ll be prepared.

Tips for Living Without Power During An Outage

Tips for Living Without Power During An Outage

It’s bound to happen sooner or later – disaster strikes and you find yourself living without power. Whether it was caused by a natural disaster or a city-wide power grid failure, short to long-term power outages are almost an inevitable part of life.

Life without power requires some adjustment, especially in our technology-driven world. However, just because the lights go out doesn’t mean you need to stay in the dark. Here are some measures you can take to live without power.

Tips for Living Without Power During An Outage

Light

Loss of light is usually the first indicator that the power has gone out. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions for providing light in the case of a power outage:

  • Natural Light: Keep blinds and windows open during the day to allow natural light to pour in
  • Flashlights: Keep one flashlight per person in the house at all times, and three sets of batteries for each flashlight in your emergency kit.
  • Candles: Be sure to place them somewhere safe where they won’t be at risk of falling over and place a heatproof plate underneath to catch drippings.
  • Kerosene or Oil Lamps: Brighter than candles and offering a more steady light, oil lamps can last for hours. Two liters of oil per lamp should last you about a week, so keep extra oil (along with wicks and chimneys) on hand in case of power outage.

Water

If you live in a city, the power outage may not immediately affect your water flow. However, loss of power comes with an increased chance of contaminated water, so obtaining clean water should be your primary concern. Hopefully you had enough warning of potential power outage to stock up on water jugs and to fill your bathtubs with water for cleaning.

If you find yourself without water during a power outage, make it a priority to collect as much water as you can. Try to put out buckets or jugs if it’s raining, or find a way to melt snow if you find yourself in a an ice storm. Just be sure to boil any water before consuming and treat with iodine tablets if you are able to. You could also purify water with 15 drops of plain, unscented bleach for every gallon or a ¼ cup of hydrogen peroxide per gallon to eradicate bacteria for bathing and cleaning.

 Food

Take inventory of the dry, non-perishable food that you have on hand. Items like canned food, boxed macaroni, rice, beans and pasta are easy to store in case of emergency. Most canned food can be eaten cold, but if you need heat to cook you can use a gas grill, patio cooker or small turkey fryer.

Sanitation

In a short term power outage, you may be able to get by with only flushing solid waste and allowing liquids to wait until the power comes on, in order to reserve water. If you’re stuck without power longer than a day, other measures may need to be put into place. You can use grey water (rainwater) to flush the toilet, or use a camping toilet or bucket system.

Remember that power outages are almost never planned, so it pays to always be prepared. Practice your strategies of living without power so you can be comfortable when it comes time to put them to use. And rest easy knowing that people have lived without power for thousands of years – you can do this too!

The Don’ts of Disaster Survival

The Don’ts of Disaster Survival

No matter where you live, a natural or man-made disaster is just waiting to strike. Whether it’s a severe storm, a power outage, or a raging flood, there are all kinds of ways that you can be put into danger. However, if you want to increase your chances of survival, you have to change the way you think and be quick on your feet. Most notably, you want to know what to avoid in a disaster if you hope to make it through unscathed. To put this into perspective, let’s break down the common mistakes that people make.

Don’t Freeze or Panic

We’ve all heard of the fight or flight response, but the fact is that most of us tend to stay in place when something happens. The adrenaline overpowers our brains and tells us to freeze, even if it’s not really in our best interest. Instead, take a deep breath, try to calm down, and figure out your next move.

Whether it’s evacuating a building or heading to higher ground, focus your attention on doing that one specific task, as it will help prevent you from getting overwhelmed.

Don’t Be Afraid to Cut Your Losses

You’d be surprised what people will try and save during a disaster, even if it means putting their life on the line. You are the most valuable thing that you have, so make sure that you are a top priority. Don’t go back for personal belongings as that could put you in unnecessary danger. Most things can be replaced, but not your life.

Don’t Ignore Safety Warnings

In most disasters, the government will issue notices as to what you should do next. However, many people will instead go to the grocery store or gas station, or simply clog the roads trying to go somewhere else. This can make the situation far worse than if everyone followed the advice and did what they were supposed to do.

Don’t Forget to Make a Plan

Trying to figure things out on the fly is what causes the most problems in the first place, so it’s much better to have a plan in place before the disaster so that you know exactly what to do and where to go. Again, break it down into simple, achievable goals so that you don’t get overwhelmed or panic.

Don’t Forget to Let People Know Where You Are

In many cases, the reason that people aren’t rescued in time is that they don’t let people know their location, which means that rescuers can’t find them. If you need immediate assistance, calling your family members in another state won’t help, but calling 911 will, along with giving them a description of your exact location.

In the end, when it comes to staying safe in a disaster, try to ignore your instincts and think about things more critically. Remember that your safety is most important, and focus your attention and energy on preserving your life, not your stuff.

 

Providing Solutions for Potential Summertime Disasters

Providing Solutions for Potential Summertime Disasters

 

Summer is upon us here in the Petaluma area, so it’s a good time to take a look at preparedness measures for dealing with the effects of natural and environmental disasters that might plague us during these hot summer months.

Flooding

From 1950 to 2010 there have been over 100 floods within 50 miles of Petaluma. On top of that, Petaluma and unincorporated areas of Sonoma County are in a FEMA designated flood zone. While flooding from storms impacting Petaluma River and its tributaries are primarily a winter phenomenon, with today’s increasing unpredictability in weather patterns it’s a good idea to know what to do in the event your home or business is flooded and you require emergency water extraction.

Earthquakes

While Petaluma and the surrounding area is statistically less likely than other areas in the state to suffer the ravages of a major earthquake, it is still well above the national average so having a plan for the possible reconstruction of your home is well worth considering.

Volcanos

Again, Petaluma and surrounding areas are less likely to be impacted by a volcano than the state as a whole, but far more likely than the national average. This is yet another reason to maintain home reconstruction contingencies in your plans.

That covers most of the threats to the Petaluma area from natural disasters. But what about environmental ones?

Mold

With average July temperatures hovering over 80 degrees and periodic high levels of humidity, summer in Petaluma and surrounding areas are ripe for the possibility of mold taking hold and growing in your home. Unlike natural disasters, where the most we can usually do by way of preparedness pertains to assembling supplies and mapping out evacuation plans, mold is a potential disaster that is preventable, though once it has taken hold, it needs to be removed and remediated.

 

 

Stay or Go? How to Live Around a Home Being Rebuilt

When contemplating a major home renovation or rebuilding project, it’s important to consider whether it will be possible to continue living there while all the work is going on.

Whether the construction is due to the addition of a new structure, or a kitchen update, or if the house has suffered a disaster of some sort, like a fire or a flood, any effort at reconstructing is going to involve a significant amount of noise, dust, and visitors. The scope of the project generally determines the feasibility of living on-site during the process.

This is especially true if children or pets are part of the equation. Many construction contractors will refuse to be held responsible for pets that escape, and stopping work due to kids’ naptimes or curious questions will quickly increase costs.

Smaller projects like single rooms can easily be worked and lived around. Even a kitchen remodel is just an excuse for more picnics and restaurant visits, or residents can make do with a temporary kitchen set up in another room. Larger projects involving multiple rooms, foundation work, or anything that requires removing part of the roof merits serious consideration of alternative living arrangements.

During major reconstruction projects, household utilities are usually shut off, and construction workers have nearly total control of what can become a fairly hazardous area. That lack of basic utilities during reconstruction may make a temporary housing arrangement elsewhere absolutely unavoidable.

Given all of that, a number of hotel chains cater to individuals and families that need to be away from home for an extended period. This can also include the possibility of renting a unique Airbnb house, which could be a fun experience.

Homeowners may be able to find a very inexpensive place to stay while they rebuild if any nearby friends or associates who like to take long vacations can offer the opportunity to house-sit for a few weeks or even months while they’re away. This would depend on the timing of the reconstruction.

Other than these possibilities, The normal remaining options are staying together temporarily with other family or friends, or renting another house or apartment for the necessary time. Homeowners may also consider the possibilities of long-term camping in a nearby natural area, as long as it’s one that has sufficient nearby shower facilities (or a gym on the way to work). They may also like to try renting an RV and possibly booking a space at a nearby RV park.

Whichever tactic works best is a consideration for each family to make before they begin reconstructing their house. It’s important to remember that the safety and comfort of each member of the family depends on that decision.