Extra Safety During Flood Alerts

Floods are one of the most powerful and devastating natural disasters that can occur. While some areas are more prone to floods than others, the fact is that almost anywhere there can be rain, there can also be a flood. Serious floods can range from large and foreboding to smaller flash floods. No matter what type you find your area prone to, it’s important to take safety precautions both before and during flood alerts. In fact, being knowledgeable about flooding could save your life, or the life of someone you love.

A flood usually occurs when either heavy or frequent rain falls for hours or days at a time. When this happens, the ground usually becomes saturated. When the ground is no longer able to hold water, the water will rise. Just like with any severe weather, you will likely hear your local meteorologist use terms that describe what is occurring. When it comes to flooding, a flood or a flash flood watch means that flooding or flash flooding is a possibility near your location. A flood or flash flood warning, on the other hand, means that one of those two things is already happening or will be happening very soon. Either way, when you hear one of these warnings, it’s imperative that you begin to exercise some precautions.

If you live in an area that is prone to flooding or flash flooding, you’ll want to be prepared for an evacuation. It’s always easier to prepare yourself or your family in advance as opposed to in an emergency situation. While you can find lists of evacuation supplies online, a few supplies that are most useful include:

  • Drinking water

  • Non­perishable food

  • First aid kit

  • Flashlight with extra batteries

  • Required medications

  • Copies of personal documents (insurance policies, passport, birth certificates, social security card)

  • Weather radio

  • Emergency cash

  • Photos of your home prior to flooding

The list of supplies that you choose to pull together will vary depending on the number of individuals who will require evacuation. For instance, if you have a pet, be sure to pack pet supplies like food, a leash, and a bowl. If you have a baby, pack formula and blankets. Have your supplies packed and ready to go in an easily accessible area. When it comes to flooding, the quicker you can evacuate, the better off you will be.

There are additional steps to take in keeping yourself and your family safe during flood alerts. While some of them may seem ridiculous, following through may prove to be life­saving. For instance, when a flood or flash flood warning has been issued for your county, get to higher ground as soon as possible. It can be tempting to stay behind. After all, leaving your home can be incredibly difficult emotionally or physically. Nonetheless, it’s important to do so quickly.

Secondly, if you find that water is above your ankles, turn around and try to find higher ground using a different route. Mere inches of water may not seem like much, but if moving swiftly it can sweep you off your feet.

If you come across a flooded road in your vehicle, do not continue. Most people don’t realize that roads beneath swiftly moving water can be washed away. Most vehicles can be swept away in less than two feet of moving water. Never let your children play in flood waters. This is especially true after the rain has subsided. Water can still move quickly or worse, it may be contaminated.

Don’t be caught off guard by a flood. Instead, know how to protect yourself and your family andalways exercise extra safety during flood alerts.

Fire? How to Create a Safety Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, having a practiced safety escape plan can save lives. Make sure everyone knows when to call 911, how to get out, where to go, and who to contact in the event of an emergency. Remind others to practice staying low to the floor and checking for hot doors using the back of the hand.  It’s just like a routine school fire drill but in the home. Don’t forget to practice the safety plan with family in every room in the house.

Step 1: Your first step should be to make a map of the house. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but an accurate layout is necessary.

Step 2: Next, you’ll want to find the quickest possible escape route through any given room in your home. In the second story? Make sure a fire escape ladder is located near every window in case the stairs collapse.

Step 3: Once you have outlined the fastest escape routes, diagram them on your map and distribute the map to each member of your family. Practice the routes, make sure everyone knows how to crawl under smoke, check hot doors with the back of their hands, and use a fire escape ladder.

Step 4: Now that your escape is planned, list emergency numbers to call and create designated meeting spots for your family to rendezvous in the event of an emergency.

If you make an accurate, practiced plan you’re ready for anything!

Top Causes of Kitchen Fires

The #1 cause of house fires and injuries to homeowners are kitchen fires, so avoiding them is a notable goal for each household. Taking common-sense precautions can decrease the chance of starting a cooking fire during meal preparation, and understanding how to avoid these fires is simple and smart. Listed here are several suggestions from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).

1. Cooking oil, a key ingredient for frying and sautéing, is also a prime cause of sudden stove-top fires. Intelligent cooks heat oils slowly to the required temperature, then add food gently to reduce the chance of splatter and flare-up. Keeping an appropriately sized lid beside to your pan gives you a means to quickly cover the pan and snuff out sudden flames.

2. Good chefs always remain in the kitchen; unattended cooking is a dangerous gamble. Staying in the kitchen, specifically when frying, grilling, broiling or boiling, is a smart and obvious way to avoid an out-of-control fire.

3. Roasting, simmering and baking foods takes additional time. While the likelihood of a fire may seem less, the main culprit is forgetting to check on your meal. Set a timer to remind you to check back every so often, and be sure that any wooden utensils, oven mitts, paper products, dish towels and curtains are moved far away from heat sources.

4. Early morning and late evening cooking coincides with the time you may be more sleepy. Staying alert is staying safe, so be sure you’re not too sleepy or distracted by other tasks. Consuming alcohol can be enjoyable when preparing meals, but it is also a risk that should be minimized if not completely avoided.

5. Fight or flight. There is no concrete answer concerning whether it is better to fight a kitchen fire or immediately leave the room, close the door behind you and call for help. If you’re really unsure, choose the safest route and call 911 as soon as you and all others can exit the kitchen.

NFPA studies state that 55 percent of the people who were injured in reported nonfatal home cooking fires during 2005-2009 were injured when they attempted to fight the fire themselves. One of every four house fires reported in 2007-2011 started with fat or grease, and one of every three fire injuries resulted from these fires.

Waste Not, Want Not

As much as most of us want to lower water consumption around the house, we seldom do much about it. So the next time you’re about to fork out money for your water bill, think about this. Consider that the average house uses 130,000 gallons of water every year, and without much effort or any noticeable lifestyle differences, you and your family could decrease water use by as much as 35% (44,000 gallons). Now, multiply the current water bill paid by 65% and see if saving that much on each bill is worth the time and effort to switch to these recommended water-saving habits.

  • Check all your faucets and accessible pipes for leaks. The drip from a single worn washer can waste 20 gallons of water a day.

  • Check all toilets for leaks by putting a little food coloring in the tank. Then check back in a half-hour to see if the color appears in the bowl. By replacing the toilet flapper and other necessary parts, you’ll save untold wasted gallons.

  • Install aerators in faucets that don’t already have these inexpensive water-conserving devices. Kitchen faucets at 2.2 gpm (gallons per minute) and bathroom faucets at 1.5 gpm or lower are suggested. You’ll use a lot less water because the flow will seem stronger.

  • Low-flush toilets use 1-2 gallons per flush instead of 3-5 gallons. If your toilets aren’t low-flush, you can still lower water use by adjusting to 3 gallons in the tank, which often worksjust as well.

  • Put these habits into practice when washing yourself, your clothes, your food or dishes and cars: take shorter showers; turn off the faucet while brushing your teeth or shaving; utilize the sink stopper when washing vegetables or hand washing dishes and glasses; do only full loads of clothes or dishes; use a bucket of soapy water to wash the cars and limit hose use to rinsing away the suds and dirt.

  • Cut down on outside water use by planting drought-resistant grasses, shrubs and plants. Mulch around plants and trees to reduce water evaporation, and avoid watering lawns on windy days.

  • When watering lawns, limit to an inch per week, apply in the early morning, and leave the grass taller (up to 3 inches) to better retain moisture. Put an old tuna can on the lawn when watering and when it’s full, you’ve reached an inch. Use a broom or blower to clear sidewalks and driveways instead of hosing them to remove leaves or grass clippings.

Cleaning your Chimney? Read this first!

Chimney cleaning is no easy task, but it’s important to remove all buildup in order to prevent house fires. When cleaning your chimney, you must do a very thorough job to ensure your home is safe. The two steps below are a great start:

1. Use the proper equipment

You will need a chimney rod, chimney brush, buckets, tarps, and a flashlight. It is also helpful to have a roll of duct tape on hand.

2. Use the correct technique

As with most things, using proper technique makes the process much easier. The following website includes a step-by-step process for cleaning your chimney:

How Stuff Works

Facts on Home Invasions

Most home burglaries are not randomly executed; they are typically premeditated. Robbers search for houses that will make their job easier. They want to enter quickly, swipe your possessions, and leave without being detected. While there isn’t a fail-safe way to protect your home, here are some simple steps that will decrease the odds of a break-in.

First, read these facts:

  • Most robberies of two-person family homes happen during the day.

  • Thieves spend an average of one minute gaining entry and less than five minutes inside a home.

  • Most burglaries happen on the ground floor.

  • The most common areas for access are the rear door, side door, and garage door.

With the knowledge of these facts, look for things that a burglar would in your home. Evaluate your home during the day and night.

  • Can you windows be opened easily?

  • Do your exterior doors have deadbolts? Can doors be kicked in?

  • Have you changed the code to your garage door recently?

  • Does the landscaping help a burglar conceal himself while attempting to open a window or door?

  • Is your home well lit? Are lights installed high enough so that burglars can’t disable the lights?

  • Is your identity displayed on your mailbox or house?

  • Are your possessions secure? Documented? Out of sight?

Give yourself more peace of mind and make your home less attractive to criminals by following the process above.

Store Your Propane Tanks Safely

Did you have any idea propane is a resource made in America? Propane’s popularity is derived from being a clean natural energy resource, and typically comes in a gas or liquid form. Propane is simple to use and inexpensive to heat and cool houses, heat water, heat appliances, barbecue food on the grill, make food on the stove and provide warmth from fireplaces and outdoor heaters. However, propane tanks are very flammable with the ability to become a fire hazard. Always remember to follow these 3 tips to store propane tanks safely around your home:


Top safety tip #1: Store propane tank outdoors upright on a hard surface.

Cylinder tanks must be stored outside the home. DO NOT leave a cylinder tank inside a car or vehicle.

Top safety tip #2: If you smell gas, an odor like rotten eggs, shut it off and exit immediately.

If there are no sparks or flames, shut off the gas to the tank. Do not use a cell phone, lights or turn on appliances. Leave the area immediately and call the fire department. Do not return until the fire department says it’s okay to do so.

Top safety tip #3: Always turn off the gas line or valve to an unused tank.

Leaving the line or valve open could cause a leak which can cause a dangerous condition where injury, fire or explosion may occur.

We hope these safety tips from Tougas keep you and your family safe. In the case of any property damage, please Call Paul! We’re available 24/7 for all your property recovery and restoration needs.

Fire Extinguisher Safety

Can you believe that 372,900 house fires occur every single year? These fires result in 2,530 deaths, 13,125 injuries and $7 billion in property damage each year, according to the US Fire Administration. Astonishingly, fire extinguishers were present in just four percent of these fires. If a fire occurred in your house, would you know what to do? Knowing the following safety tips will help you be prepared.

 
Initially, you must know what type of fire extinguisher to buy. For a house, choose a multi-purpose extinguisher that is large, but not too big so that you can handle its weight. Ensure the extinguisher has an “independent testing laboratory” label. Keep the fire extinguisher close to an exit. If you have multiple floors, keep at least one fire extinguisher on each level of the home. Go over the instructions to become familiar with how the extinguisher functions.

 
If and when a fire occurs, before using a fire extinguisher, make sure all of the building occupants have exited and phone the fire department. If the fire is confined to a small space, use a fire extinguisher to put the fire out. Remember to keep your back to an exit while using the extinguisher. This way you will have an easy escape if the fire gets out of control. If the fire starts to spread or fills the room with smoke, leave the property immediately.

 
The National Fire Protection Association advises to remember the acronym PASS when operating a fire extinguisher:
P = pull the pin. Ensure the nozzle points away from you and release the pin.
A = aim low pointing at the fire’s base.
S = squeeze the fire extinguisher lever slowly.
S = sweep from side-to-side.

 
For hands-on training, call your local fire department who might offer fire extinguisher training courses.
On top of the importance of fire extinguishers, it’s also crucial to have working smoke alarms that have been tested regularly, along with having and practicing a fire escape plan with your loved ones. Take a look at the NFPA Fire Escape Plan for safety advice on escape planning.

 
If you do experience fire damage to your home, please don’t hesitate to Call Tougas! We’re here for you 24/7 to carefully and effectively handle all of your property damage emergency service needs.

 
For added info about fire extinguishers and fire safety, please visit NFPA.

What Everyone Should Know About Wildfires!

Every year in the United States there are over 100,000 wildfires that damage approximately 5 million acres of land. In the first nine months of 2015, over 8 million acres have already burned. This is 200% higher compared to the same months in 2014. *iii.org. As of September this year, large fires continue to thrive in Idaho, Montana and Washington.

You may not live in an area known for wildfire outbreak, but these hazardous fires can occur anywhere at any time. Did you know that “90% of all wildfires are started by humans”? *Do Something. Wildfires can start as small fires from matches, cigarettes, camp fires, sparks from a vehicle, power lines, or arson. On top of human causes, wildfires can also be caused by nature including lightning, dry heat, high winds, humidity, and even the sun.

Once the fire becomes significantly larger, it can then create its own weather, which increases oxygen flow and enhances the flames. Larger fires have the potential to “generate hurricane-force winds, up to 120mph.” *CNN.

Remember that September is National Preparedness Month and this week is all about wildfires. It’s always better to be prepared beforehand than sorry afterwards.

For Wildfire Safety Tips, check out our recent blog post.

Would you like to help Firefighters in your area? Over 4 million people have signed up for “Fight Fire with Cookies” and baked cookies to say thanks to their community firemen and women. Sign-up here: https://www.dosomething.org/campaigns/fight-fire-cookies

If you encounter property damage caused by fire, don’t hesitate to Call Paul! We have nearly 400 Paul Davis offices throughout the US and Canada.

Useful Resources:

http://www.ready.gov/wildfires

https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-wildfires

http://www.cnn.com/2013/06/21/us/wildfires-fast-facts/

http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/natural-disasters/wildfires/

http://www.iii.org/fact-statistic/wildfires

Back to School Safety Precautions

This month is the time to make any last-minute preparations before your kids head back to school. Here are some safety suggestions to follow as you jump back into the world of school buses, class bells, and homework assignments.

SCHOOL ZONES ARE FOR KIDS

  • Be aware of school zones and follow the speed limit.

  • No matter which way you are driving, stop for school buses and be cautious of children.

  • Follow the direction of crossing guards.

  • Look out for children, especially near schools and parks.

  • While in a school zone, do not pass other vehicles, change lanes, or make U-turns.

  • Do not text and drive.

  • If you must use a cell phone, only use hands-free devices.

  • Never use handicap spaces or lanes unless licensed.

WALKING TO SCHOOL

  • Look both ways before crossing the street.

  • Only cross streets at marked crosswalks.

  • Obey traffic signs, signals, and markings.

  • Pick the safest route between the school and your home and try walking it with your kids.

  • Teach your children to:

  1. walk to school with a sibling or friend.

  2. never accept a ride from someone else without your permission

  3. report any incidents to a teacher immediately

TEEN DRIVING

  • Teen driving statistics are astounding!

  • “Before graduating from high school, 50% of all teens will be involved in a car crash.” – NSC.org

  • “Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States.” – NSC.org

  • Teach your teens the rules of driving. Use the resources below:

    1. Tips for Parents

    2. Teen Driving

Being aware of these tips will lead to a safer back-to-school season.