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MANAGING MOLD

10/16/2018 (Permalink)

When there’s a water intrusion, like a roof leak or leaking water line, mold can quickly become a problem in your home or business. Mold can cause health effects and can also cause significant damage to your property.  Fortunately, SERVPRO Franchise Professionals have the training, protective gear, and specialized equipment necessary to handle your mold problem. Although every mold damage scenario is different requiring a unique solution, the general mold remediation process stays the same. The following steps illustrate a “typical” mold removal process.


Call the Team in Green

The mold cleanup and restoration process begins when you call SERVPRO®.  A representative will ask a series of questions to help determine the necessary equipment, resources, and personnel needed.

Inspection and Damage Assessment

Your property will be carefully inspected for signs of mold using technology designed to detect mold and hidden water sources. Mold feeds on cellulose and water and can be hidden from plain view.

Mold Containment

Various containment procedures will be placed to prevent the spread of mold and isolate the contaminated area with physical barriers and negative air pressure to keep the mold spores from spreading during the cleanup process.

Air Filtration

Specialized filtration equipment captures microscopic mold spores out of the air. SERVPRO® technicians utilize powerful air scrubbers and HEPA vacuums to prevent the spread of these mold spores while the mold remediation is in progress.

Removing Mold and Mold-Infested Materials

The mold remediation process depends on the amount of mold growth and the types of surfaces on which the mold appears. Antifungal and antimicrobial treatments will be used to eliminate mold colonies and help prevent new colonies from forming. Removing and disposing of mold infested
porous materials, like drywall and flooring, may be necessary to remediate heavy mold growth.

Cleaning Contents and Belongings

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals clean your furniture, decorative items, curtains, and other restorable items affected by mold. They use a variety of cleaning techniques to clean and sanitize your belongings. They are also trained to remove odors and deodorize using fogging equipment.

Restoration

Depending on the level of mold damage, drywall, subfloors, and other building materials may be removed.  Restoration may involve minor repairs, such as replacing drywall, painting, and installing new carpet; or it may entail major repairs such as the reconstruction of various areas or rooms in a home or business.

TAKE PRECAUTIONS

SERVPRO® Franchise Professionals handle water
damages every day and know prompt action is required to prevent mold growth. If there is an ongoing moisture problem in the building, be alert for:

  • The presence of visible mold.
  • Strong musty odors, which may indicate mold is present.
  • Any evidence of past moisture problems that might have caused undetected mold growth.
  • Excessive humidity.  These conditions may require the expertise of a qualified Indoor Air Quality/Environmental Professional to inspect the building for mold growth and water damage problems.

Contact us at 973-546-4977 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Wayne's System Services. 

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Reduce Flood Damage to Businesses

10/7/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Your plan for disaster preparedness should include flood information and outline how to prepare for floods. Read on for information about floods and flood safety tips, and how to make them part of your emergency preparedness plan as you prepare for a flood.

Types Of Flooding

Topography and weather conditions play a prominent role in the impact different types of flooding have on specific locales. The following are some examples of specific types of flooding.

  • Rising water may be the greatest risk to inland areas away from a river bed after a heavy snow pack begins to melt or after heavy rainfall.
  • Moving water is a serious risk in areas near rivers or in coastal storm surge areas because it creates significantly larger lateral forces on a building.
  • Overtopping, breaching or opening of dams, levees, and other flood control mechanisms, which are designed to divert the flow of water to provide protection, can lead to flood damage that may be more significant than if the levees were never installed. The Mississippi and Missouri River floods of 2011 included breaches of levees, as well as controlled flooding by the opening of various flood gates on levees. The result was thousands of acres of farmland, crops, livestock and fish farms being destroyed to protect urban areas.
  • Flash flooding can occur in every region as a result of slow-moving thunderstorms or excessive rainfall from any storm system.
  • Large, slow-moving tropical storms can dump excessive amounts of rain on coastal locations and then move inland to continue the devastation, resulting in widespread flood damage.

Floods can occur anywhere, often with little or no warning, and with devastating consequences. Protecting the bottom line in order to remain open, or to re-open quickly after a flood disaster, requires taking steps now to prevent or reduce flood damage should your business be in the path of rising water. Below is a brief overview of issues that small businesses must address to reduce the likelihood of flood damage and to prepare financially and operationally should a flood occur. Many of the topics covered here involve complex issues that are best addressed by hydrological, engineering, regulatory or insurance experts; the goal here is simply to outline the basics in order to help business owners understand why they need to mitigate against flood risk and some of the challenges they may face.

Tropical Storm Allison (2001): A Case Study in Flooding

Often, businesses and homeowners let down their guard when a tropical weather system does not result in hurricane-force winds. Tropical Storm Allison is a good example of how rains associated with a tropical system can be equally devastating. The storm dumped approximately 32 trillion gallons of rain (enough to meet U.S. water needs for an entire year), according to the Tropical Storm Allison Recovery Project. This included 28 inches of rainfall during a 12-hour period just northeast of downtown Houston, and rainfall amounts ranging from 10, 20 and 30 inches in locations throughout the Southeast—earning Allison the infamous distinction as the costliest tropical storm in U.S. history.

Understanding Your Flood Hazard

There are several flood principles that should be considered to determine your facility’s exposure to flood waters and the type of protection to be deployed:

  • Duration: It is important to know if flood waters are expected to recede quickly or may be trapped due to the slope of the land. The longer a facility is exposed to flood waters, the greater potential for flood-proofing failures due to a breach in the protection.
  • Depth: Flood waters greater than 3 feet create hydrostatic pressure on walls that can cause cracks in masonry and greatly increase the potential of collapse to unreinforced masonry. When estimating the potential depth of flood waters, it is always best to include a safety factor to account for inaccuracies in the estimate.
  • Velocity: As flood water velocity increases, so does the pressure exerted on flood protection. River flooding can be very fast moving water at first and then may settle down. Coastal locations may be exposed to wave action from storm surge.
  • Water Condition: Many times flood waters are dirty, brackish or contaminated with biological and chemical materials including waste water, sewage, pesticides, industrial waste, toxic and non-toxic chemicals, or oils. Debris that is churning in the water can impact buildings and flood protection systems, create breaches in the protection and cause extensive damage.

Location, Location, Location

Proximity to water is the number 1 risk factor for flooding, but property owners should not assume being out of the floodplain will help you entirely avoid the possibility of flooding. It is always a best practice to locate your property as far away from bodies of water as possible. Flood maps available from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) identify 100-year and 500-year flood zones throughout the United States. The flood zones also delineate participation in the NFIP, as well as permitting and other requirements that communities adopt in order to meet NFIP standards and qualify their citizens for lower flood insurance rates. By definition, the 100-year and 500-year flood zones mean there is a 1 (.20) percent chance of flooding annually in an area based on topography and historical data; it does not mean that flooding will occur only once in a century (or 500 years). There also are other important points to consider.

  • Floods can and very often do occur outside the 100-year flood zone. In fact, approximately 25 percent of all flood damages occur in relatively low risk zones commonly described as being “outside the mapped flood zone.”
  • Specific boundaries on some flood maps may be arbitrary or include inaccuracies. For example, a property lying just outside the 100-year flood zone is almost equally likely to be flooded as one just within.
  • Obstructions or landfill can change the topography, storm-water drainage patterns, and flow of water over natural floodplains. Although permits are required for flood zone fill (and must be based on engineering assessments demonstrating “no impact”), it is possible that non-permitted work has occurred near your property.
  • Floods show no respect for the estimated probabilities. As Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Director Craig Fugate observed following a spate of natural disasters, “It just seemed like it was back-to-back and it came in waves. The term ‘100-year event’ really lost its meaning this year.”

The Importance of Elevation

When it comes to flooding, there really is no better solution than adequate elevation, aside from choosing a location well outside of a 500-year flood plain. If such a location is not possible, the best way to increase the safety margin against flood damage is to raise the elevation of your building above the 500-year flood elevation. Flood-proofing your building is another option to reduce damage. Through the NFIP, there is extensive regulation of floodplain development at the community level.

Permits are needed for a wide range of activities including construction of new buildings, additions to existing buildings, and substantial improvement to the interior of existing buildings that are within the most hazardous flood zones. Part of the permitting process involves whether your building site is higher than the base flood elevation (BFE), which is the elevation at which your property has a 1 percent chance of flooding annually, as indicated on the NFIP flood maps. Major storms and flash floods can cause waters to rise higher than the BFE—therefore, it is always a good investment to build in a safety factor several feet above the BFE. This safety zone is called “freeboarding.”

 

For example, IBHS’s FORTIFIED for Safer Business™ Standards, a package of enhanced voluntary construction standards that greatly increase a new light commercial building’s durability and resilience to natural hazards, requires FORTIFIED buildings to be at least 3 feet above the BFE or above the 500-year flood elevation. There are also ways to retrofit your existing building so that it meets or exceeds BFEs. While only a structural engineer/design professional can determine what is right for your property, the options include raising foundation onto pilings or columns or adding landfill, as long as “no impact” floodplain requirements are met.

  • When elevating a building so that the walking surface of the lowest floor is at the minimum elevation, areas under the BFE can be used only for parking and limited storage—under-floor bathrooms, utilities, and ductwork are not allowed.
  • Equipment, utility connections and all interior utility systems including ductwork must be elevated above the BFE. In addition, fuel and propane tanks must be properly anchored, since they can become buoyant even in shallow water.

What is “Dry Flood-Proofing”?

Sealing a building so that water will not enter is called “dry flood-proofing” or “flood-proofing.” Flood-proofing protects your building by coating the exterior with a membrane to prevent flood waters from entering. NFIP regulations allow flood-proofing as an alternative to elevation above the BFE for newly constructed or substantially improved non-residential structures only—new and improved homes must be elevated above the BFE to meet NFIP requirements. It is important to determine whether dry flood-proofing will provide the protections your property needs before choosing this option. This also applies if your business is located outside the 100-year flood zone, but you want to invest in additional flood protection. Dry flood-proofing is a complex procedure that should be done by professional experts. If done incorrectly, it may not protect your property and can lead to decay, mold, or termite damage:

  • As a general matter, dry flood-proofing is best suited to areas with clay soils where floods are short in duration and less than 3 feet deep.
  • Buildings in poor structural condition should not be dry flood-proofed, as the exterior walls will be under extreme pressure during a flood.

There are a variety of dry flood-proofing measures; a professional can help to determine whether any of them are right for your situation:

  • Applying a waterproof coating or membrane to exterior walls
  • Sealing all wall penetrations including where utilities enter the building
  • Installing waterproof shields over all openings, including windows and doors
  • Anchoring the building to resist flotation
  • Strengthening walls to withstand flood water pressures and flood debris

The Vulnerable Basement

Even above the BFE or outside the floodplain, basements are prone to floods because water may flow down into them. They also may have an increased hydrostatic pressure exerted upon them when the surrounding ground is saturated. Recognizing that elevation is the best form of mitigation, there are a number of additional measures business owners can take to reduce the likelihood and scope of basement flood damage.

  • Thoroughly inspect your basement and the surrounding property for evidence of water entry and sources of water flow and leakage.
  • Correct potential problems—for example, extend and redirect downspouts, re-grade sloping landscape, and caulk any interior wall cracks.
  • Basement walls should be designed to resist hydrostatic pressure.
  • Use flood-resistant materials where possible, including floor coverings, wall coverings, and wall insulation. Most flood-resistant materials can withstand direct contact with water for at least 72 hours without being significantly damaged.
  • Do not store valuable equipment, documents, or inventory in any crawlspace or basement where flooding is possible.

The “Green” Factor

In addition, there are steps you can take now to reduce health and environmental damage should a flood occur.

  • Anchor fuel and propane tanks to prevent them from being swept away. When they break away, the contents may leak, creating fire, explosion and pollution risks that can adversely affect health and the environment.
  • Install sewer backflow valves to block drain pipes from sewage back-up, which can occur if there is flooding in your area.
  • If you are supplied by well water, protect your well from contamination. A licensed well drilling contractor can inspect your well and suggest improvements.

Financial and Operational Protections

The NFIP makes flood insurance available to commercial owners and renters. As is the case with residential property, costs vary depending on how much insurance is purchased, what it covers, and the property’s flood risk. NFIP coverage limits are up to $500,000 for a commercial building, and up to $500,000 to protect its contents. Insurance coverage also may be available from private insurance companies, depending on your business’s location, building and business characteristics, and property value.

The best way to learn more about flood insurance benefits, costs, and options is to contact your insurance agent. Finally, take steps now so you can quickly resume operations should a flood or other hazard damage your property. Although flood insurance may cover losses to your structure and contents, many businesses that are severely damaged never fully recover financially due to the loss of management focus, employees, and market share. IBHS’ Open for Business® planning tool helps small- and mid-sized businesses resume their critical business operations and work processes and deliver the goods and services expected by customers or clients–consider it a vital part of your flood preparation planning and practice.

Contact us at 973-546-4977 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Wayne's System Services. 

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How to get federal disaster assistance

10/7/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com

Author: Jay MacDonald

When local and state resources are overwhelmed by a severe disaster, your state’s governor will request that the president issue a Major Disaster Declaration. This is the only declaration that can activate a range of federal assistance programs for individuals and families. Assistance may include temporary housing, low-interest loans and grants, counseling for post-disaster trauma and other services.

FEMA service information to keep handy:

To register for federal disaster assistance:

Online: DisasterAssistance.gov
Phone: (800) 621-3362
Teletypewriter, or TTY: (800) 462-7585
Smartphone: m.fema.gov

To locate a mobile: Disaster Recovery Center

To appeal a FEMA grant denial, write to:

FEMA - Individuals & Households Program
National Processing Service Center
P.O. Box 10055
Hyattsville, MD 20782-7055

Or send fax to: (800) 827-8112
Attention: FEMA -- Individuals & Households Program

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, doesn’t activate all of its assistance programs in every natural disaster. It largely depends on the nature of damages reported by your state.

To qualify for federal disaster assistance, your losses must have occurred in an area covered by a Major Disaster Declaration. If you have online access, you can quickly determine this at FEMA’s Federal Disaster Declarations Web page.

A number of criteria are used in the determination of a major disaster area, including the amount and type of damage, the imminent threats to public health and safety, and level of insurance coverage in place for homeowners and public facilities, according to fema.gov.

Make an insurance claim

After determining whether you are in a major disaster area, you should file an insurance claim with your home and/or auto insurance company for any damages incurred. Failure to file an insurance claim may affect your eligibility for federal assistance, because by law, FEMA cannot provide money for losses that are covered by insurance.

Once you file your claim, FEMA may be able to provide some assistance in the following circumstances.

  • Delayed insurance settlement: If your settlement is delayed longer than 30 days, FEMA may loan you some money. It will expect you to repay the loan when your settlement arrives. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and insurance claim number, the date of the claim and documentation.
  • Your insurance settlement falls short: If the maximum payment from your settlement doesn’t cover your disaster-related needs, FEMA may help make up the difference. How to file: Write FEMA with a full explanation and complete insurance documentation.
  • Additional Living Expenses exhausted: If you’ve exhausted your insurance company’s maximum loss-of-use settlement, FEMA may be able to help with your disaster-related temporary housing needs. Write them with explanation and documentation.

Types of federal disaster assistance: housing and nonhousing

There are two types of direct federal disaster assistance available: housing needs and nonhousing needs:

Housing assistance. This includes temporary housing and money to help repair or replace your primary residence. To qualify for housing needs assistance, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; your home must be your permanent residence; and you must have been living in the home when the disaster hit but not currently able to due to damage from the disaster.

Nonhousing needs. These include medical, dental and funeral costs; clothing and household items; tools; home fuel; disaster-related moving and storage; and replacement of a disaster-damaged vehicle. In order to qualify for these, you or someone living with you must be a U.S. citizen, noncitizen national or qualified alien; you must have serious disaster-related needs and expenses; and you must have accepted all assistance for which you are eligible from insurance proceeds and Small Business Administration, or SBA, disaster loans.

The SBA provides federally subsidized disaster loans to repair or replace homes or personal property of qualified homeowners and businesses. SBA loans comprise the lion’s share of federal disaster assistance.

Additional forms of direct federal assistance include crisis counseling; disaster unemployment assistance; legal services, including assistance with insurance claims; and special tax consideration that enables you to deduct a casualty loss that exceeds 10 percent of your adjusted gross income on your federal tax return for the current or previous tax year.

What’s next

Once you’ve applied for federal disaster assistance, you can check the status of your application within 24 hours via the same method you applied. FEMA will also mail you a copy of your application along with a detailed guide that walks you through the assistance process.

An inspector working with FEMA will contact you 10 to 14 days after your application to schedule a time to visit your home and inspect the disaster-related damage. There is no charge for this inspection, but you must be present during the inspection and prepared to offer the inspector proof of ownership and occupancy.

  • Proof of ownership includes any of the following: deed, tax records, mortgage payment book or a homeowners insurance policy showing you as the owner. Lacking these, the inspector may be able to obtain proof from a county property tax website.
  • Proof of occupancy includes any of the following: driver’s license with address, a recent utility bill in your name or any first-class government mail sent to you at your address during the past three months.

Do you qualify?

Inspectors submit their report to FEMA but play no role in determining your eligibility for assistance.

It will take FEMA about 10 days to review your inspection. If you qualify for a grant, FEMA will send you a check by mail with a letter explaining how you are to use the money (you’ll receive this via direct deposit if you supplied your bank routing number on your application).

The grant is tax-free and does not require repayment. However, you cannot give it to someone else and you must use it as specified by FEMA. If you don’t, you won’t be granted any additional assistance and you may be asked to pay it back.

If you do not qualify for a grant, you’ll receive a letter explaining why. You have the right to appeal. Appeals must be written and mailed within 60 days of receiving FEMA’s decision.

In a third scenario, FEMA may send you an application to apply for a loan through the Small Business Administration. You must complete and submit the SBA loan application to be considered for a loan as well as certain types of grant assistance. If the SBA then determines that you do not qualify for a loan, it will automatically refer you back to FEMA for grant assistance.

Contact us at 973-546-4977 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Wayne's System Services. 

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Is your workplace prepared in the event of a fire?

10/7/2018 (Permalink)

Source: http://www.huffinsurance.com

Author:  

What would you say is the biggest cause of workplace fires? It's not equipment failure. It's not electrical faults. It's not storms or natural disasters. It's people and carelessness.

Every year, in more than 70,000 workplace fires across North America, an average 200 people die, thousands are injured and many firms are either put out of business or severely disrupted.

October is Fire Protection Week in the US and Canada, so now is a good time to review and remind employees of safety rules. A few simple steps will help identify and reduce risks. Things like:

  1. Assessing your buildings for risks -- I'd make that a visual inspection tour
  2. Reducing clutter and keeping escape routes clear
  3. Storing flammable chemicals under lock and key
  4. Locating heat-producing equipment, even coffee-makers, away from flammable material
  5. Checking building security to prevent possible arson fires
  6. Enforcing no-smoking or designated area rules
  7. Checking fire extinguisher service and replacement dates
  8. Ensuring employees know how to operate extinguishers
  9. Enforcing rules for the use of spark - and fire-producing equipment
  10. Conducting permitted, controlled burning/fires a safe distance from buildings
  11. Checking operation of fire and smoke alarms

It's even more important that employees know what to do if fire does break out. Even if it's not mandatory, you should have a written emergency action plan that includes details of evacuation routes, location of assembly points, procedures for raising the alarm and, if appropriate, a written list of individuals and their responsibilities.

As much as everyone loathes them, evacuations should be practiced at least once a year. It's a good idea to alert employees of an intention to have a practice drill but not to tell them exactly when it will happen.

Here are a couple of documents you may find useful in drawing up or reviewing your plans:http://tinyurl.com/fire-evac-1 and http://tinyurl.com/fire-evac-2

And if you'd like to know more about Fire Safety Week or get other information about fire safety, visit the National Fire Protection Association, a US-based global organization, at www.nfpa.org

Finally, please make sure you have adequate insurance in place, not just against property damage and liability arising from fires but also coverage to protect you against income losses arising from business disruption.

Contact us at 973-546-4977 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Wayne's System Services. 

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Flood Cleanup: Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems

10/2/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-09/documents/floods.pdf

During a flood cleanup, the indoor air quality in your home or office may appear to be the least of your problems. However, failure to remove contaminated materials and to reduce moisture and humidity can present serious long term health risks. Standing water and wet materials are a breeding ground for microorganisms, such as viruses, bacteria, and mold. They can cause disease, trigger allergic reactions, and continue to damage materials long after the flood.

This fact sheet discusses problems caused by microbial growth, as well as other potential effects of flooding, on long-term indoor air quality and the steps you can take to lessen these effects. Although the information contained here emphasizes residential flood cleanup, it is also applicable to other types of buildings.

Prepare for Cleanup

Read Repairing Your Flooded Home prepared by the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the American Red Cross. The booklet discusses flood safety issues and can save your life. The booklet also contains detailed information on proper methods for cleaning up your home. You should also consult the wealth of information on the FEMA, CDC, and The American Lung Association sites on the subject, which are listed below:

This fact sheet provides additional information not covered in the original FEMA/American Red Cross booklet on indoor air quality concerns related to flooding (however, because this fact sheet was prepared in 1993, it is more than likely that FEMA and the Red Cross and the American Lung Association do have more up-to-date information and resources available which you should consult). Many of the methods used for general cleanup, as detailed in the booklet, are the same as those used to avoid problems with indoor air quality. For brevity, we have not provided detail on the general methods used for cleanup here. This fact sheet is intended to be used in conjunction with the FEMA/American Red Cross booklet and resources. Children are different from adults. They may be more vulnerable to chemicals and organisms they are exposed to in the environment.

Avoid Problems from Microbial Growth

Remove Standing Water

Standing water is a breeding ground for microorganisms, which can become airborne and be inhaled. Where floodwater contains sewage or decaying animal carcasses, infectious disease is of concern. Even when flooding is due to rainwater, the growth of microorganisms can cause allergic reactions in sensitive individuals. For these health reasons, and to lessen structural damage, all standing water should be removed as quickly as possible.

Dry Out Your Home

Excess moisture in the home is an indoor air quality concern for three reasons:

  • Microorganisms brought into the home during flooding may present a health hazard. These organisms can penetrate deep into soaked, porous materials and later be released into air or water. Coming in contact with air or water that contains these organisms can make you sick.
  • High humidity and moist materials provide ideal environments for the excessive growth of microorganisms that are always present in the home. This may result in additional health concerns such as allergic reactions.
  • Long-term increases in humidity in the home can also foster the growth of dust mites. Dust mites are a major cause of allergic reactions and asthma. 

See Step 4, Dry Out Your Home, of the American Red Cross/FEMA booklet, Repairing Your Flooded Home, on steps that should be taken to open up and dry out ceilings, walls, and floors in the home. Be patient. The drying out process could take several weeks, and growth of microorganisms will continue as long as humidity is high. If the house is not dried out properly, a musty odor, signifying growth of microorganisms can remain long after the flood.

Remove Wet Materials

It can be difficult to throw away items in a home, particularly those with sentimental value. However, keeping certain items that were soaked by water may be unhealthy. Some materials tend to absorb and keep water more than others. In general, materials that are wet and cannot be thoroughly cleaned and dried within 24-48 hours should be discarded, as they can remain a source of microbial growth.

Information on the types of water-damaged materials that should be discarded are provided in Step 4, Dry Out Your Home, of the American Red Cross/FEMA booklet, Repairing Your Flooded Home

The booklet suggests that you may be able to dry out and save certain building materials (for example, wallboard, fiberglass insulation, and wall-to-wall carpeting that were soaked only with clean rainwater). You may, however, want to consider removing and replacing them to avoid indoor air quality problems. Because they take a long time to dry, they may be a source of microbial growth. For information on mold prevention and cleanup, visit www.epa.gov/mold.

In addition, fiberboard, fibrous insulation, and disposable filters should be replaced, if they are present in your heating and air conditioning system and have contacted water. (If a filter was designed to be cleaned with water and was in contact with clean rainwater only, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned before reinstalling.)

Avoid Problems from the Use of Cleaners and Disinfectants

The cleanup process involves thorough washing and disinfecting of the walls, floors, closets, shelves, and contents of the house. In most cases, common household cleaning products and disinfectants are used for this task. FEMA also suggests the use of disinfectants and sanitizers on the ductwork for the heating and air conditioning system, if it has been flooded.

Disinfectants and sanitizers contain toxic substances. The ability of chemicals in other household products used for cleaning to cause health effects varies greatly, from those with no known health effect to those that are highly toxic. Read and follow label instructions carefully, and provide fresh air by opening windows and doors. If it is safe for you to use electricity and the home is dry, use fans both during and after the use of disinfecting, cleaning, and sanitizing products.

Be careful about mixing household cleaners and disinfectants together. Check labels for cautions on this. Mixing certain types of products can produce toxic fumes and result in injury and even death.

Avoid Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless gas that can be lethal at high levels. Carbon monoxide levels can build up rapidly if certain types of combustion devices (for example, gasoline-powered generators, camp stoves and lanterns, or charcoal-burning devices) are used indoors. Do not use combustion devices designed for outdoor use indoors.

Avoid Problems from Airborne Asbestos and Lead Dust

Elevated concentrations of airborne asbestos can occur if asbestos-containing materials present in the home are disturbed. Airborne asbestos can cause lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer of the chest and abdominal linings. If you know or suspect that your home contains asbestos, contact the EPA TSCA Assistance Information Service at (202) 554-1404 for information on steps you should take to avoid exposure.

Lead is a highly toxic metal which produces a range of adverse health effects, particularly in young children. Disturbance or removal of materials containing lead-based paint may result in elevated concentration of lead dust in the air. If you know or suspect that your home contains lead-based paint, contact the National Lead Information Center to receive a general information packet, to order other documents, or for detailed information or questions. Call and speak with a specialist Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 6:00 pm eastern time (except Federal holidays) at 1 (800) 424-LEAD [5323].

Contact us at 973-546-4977 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Wayne's System Services. 

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11 Ways To Avoid Hurricane Damage

9/23/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/11-ways-to-avoid-hurricane-damage-1.aspx

Author: CRAIG GUILLOT

The tremendous power of a hurricane can turn a home inside out and leave it in ruins. But you can minimize the potential for damage, cut the cost of your home insurance now and save on repairs later with the help of many readily available home improvement products.

And you want to get to work before it’s too late.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is predicting eight to 13 named storms during the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. Three to six of those storms could become hurricanes, including one or two major hurricanes with winds in excess of 110 mph.

Bracing your home for what the season might bring doesn’t have to be expensive.

“Homeowners may get discounts for things such as hurricane shutters, various types of roof coverings and the way the roof is attached to the structure,” says Claire Wilkinson, a blogger for the trade group the Insurance Information Institute. 

Top products for storm protection

  • Plywood.
  • Fabric panels.
  • Hurricane straps.
  • Flood barriers.
  • Storm panels.
  • Roll-down hurricane shutters.
  • Colonial shutters.
  • Accordion shutters.
  • Bahama shutters.
  • Garage door braces.
  • Hurricane glass.

“There are a lot of things you can do (to your home) that are meaningful, affordable and make a difference,” adds Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH.

Here are several ways to avoid costly hurricane damage.

Plywood

A sheet of plywood and a handful of nails have stood out as one of the most popular ways to prepare for a storm. Homeowners typically “board up” a day or two before and attach 5/8-inch or 1/2-inch plywood to the windows of their homes.

  • Cost: Material costs vary by location and season, but a 4-by-8-foot sheet of 5/8-inch plywood typically runs $20 to $30. Depending on home size and number of windows, total material costs could run $275 to $750.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: Plywood is very effective for protecting from flying debris, and it’s easy for “do-it-yourselfers.” You can find the materials at any home improvement store. Plywood is relatively inexpensive and, if stored properly, can be used from season to season.
  • Cons: Working with plywood can be time-consuming and may require a helping hand for those with two-story homes. Installation may involve drilling holes in siding and bricks. Once windows are boarded, the home becomes very dark.

Fabric panels

Polymer-based, hurricane-strength fabric panels add trampoline-like cushion to windows and doors and repel flying debris without sacrificing visibility in a storm. Panels are anchored to the edges of windows and doorways with grommets and wing nuts or clips and pins, making them easy to install.

  • Cost: Approximately $5 to $15 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: The panels can easily be installed and removed, then rolled up and stored in a compact space. Most are translucent and allow for visibility through windows.
  • Cons: Professional installation is normally required.

Hurricane straps

Most homes are built to hold the roof up, not down. To correct for the upward and lateral lifting forces of hurricane winds, builders install hurricane straps, clips and anchor belts, which can help keep a home’s roof intact. In a correct setup, galvanized straps securely attached to the walls and foundation keep the roof tied into the entire house.

  • Cost: Inexpensive hurricane straps sell for as little as 50 cents apiece, usually by the box or in coils. A typical home could require hundreds of straps.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: When installed properly on a new home, hurricane straps drastically reduce the threat of roof failure in high winds. They are easy to install on new homes.
  • Cons: Retrofitting straps on an existing home can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

Flood barriers

While there is little a homeowner can do to prepare for a hurricane’s 20-foot storm surge on the coast, there are several products that can help protect inland residents from minor flooding. Sandbags remain the least expensive option (many counties give them away for free), but they are heavy and it takes hundreds of bags and lots of help to make a solid barrier around a home. Other types of flood barriers include powder-filled absorbent door dams, water-filled tubes, expanding bags and portable walls that can be quickly deployed in the event of a flood.

  • Cost: The price varies from a couple hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars to completely surround a home, depending on product and protection level.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: Barriers are effective in preventing minor floodwaters from entering the home. Some products are easy to install and can be deployed just before a storm.
  • Cons: The products can be expensive and time-consuming to deploy, and they’re ineffective if floodwaters rise above the height of the barrier.

Storm panels

Corrugated steel or aluminum shutters bolted over your windows and doors are one of the best ways to protect a home from flying debris. Storm panels vary in thickness and attach to window exteriors with a system of tracks and bolts. When tracks are installed permanently around the house, the shutters can be attached quickly and easily when a storm is approaching.

  • Cost: Prices for steel or aluminum storm panels run from $7 to $15 per foot of coverage.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: One of the most inexpensive permanent shutter systems, the panels are strong and can protect from almost any flying debris. Can be deployed quickly before a storm and removed quickly afterward.
  • Cons: Panels require a large space for storage. They can be difficult to install, depending on the size of windows and number of stories on your home, and you may need extra help. Some shutters have sharp edges.

Roll-down hurricane shutters

With the push of a button or the crank of a handle, roll-down hurricane shutters are the easiest home protectors to deploy before a storm. The shutters are typically made of double-walled aluminum slats that interlock, and they roll up into a narrow box that sits above the window or doorway. Available in all sizes and colors, they are usually custom-fitted to your home.

  • Cost: While they are the easiest and most convenient way to protect your home, roll-down shutters also are the most expensive window defense option, averaging $20 to $35 per square foot of window, according to the NOAA.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: The shutters are easily raised and lowered. They also can be used to temporarily darken a ro.
  • Cons: They’re prohibitively expensive for most homeowners and usually require professional installation. Push-button systems need a battery backup or manual override for use during a power outage.

Garage door braces

Your garage door is one of the parts of your home most vulnerable to high wind. Failure of a garage door can allow the full force of a hurricane to threaten the roof or walls. While some newer garage doors are rated for winds of up to 150 mph, many older ones should be braced. Vertical bracing systems are typically made of aluminum and are anchored above the garage door and to the floor to provide a backbone of extra support.

  • Cost: The price varies by manufacturer, approximately $150 to $175 per garage door brace.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Braces are effective and relatively inexpensive.
  • Cons: They may require special tools such as a rotor hammer and masonry bit to drill into concrete floor. Garage door cannot be opened without removing the brace.

Hurricane glass

Want to skip the hassle and closed-in feeling of shutters altogether? Consider installing hurricane-impact windows. The glass is usually 3/8-inch thick and features a film coating similar to the safety glass used in vehicle windshields. If the windows crack or are smashed, the glass will stay embedded in the frame.

  • Cost: Hurricane glass windows are not cheap, costing up to $50 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: With hurricane glass, there is nothing to install or remove when a hurricane comes; it’s always in place and is completely transparent. No shutters are needed. Hurricane windows also help block outside noise, protect against break-ins and filter out harmful UV rays.
  • Cons: The windows must be installed by a contractor, and the labor costs can be steep.

Accordion shutters

Housed on the sides of doors or windows when not in use, these retractable aluminum shutters unfold like an accordion to protect your home’s openings during a storm. The shutters can provide protection against not only wind but also forced entry. They are usually available in a variety of colors.

  • Cost: $15 to $25 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Accordion shutters are easily and quickly deployed in the event of a storm. They are permanently fixed to the house and do not require storage.
  • Cons: They may appear unattractive on some houses. The mechanisms that open and close the shutters may be weaker or break more often than with other products.

Bahama shutters

Bahama shutters are hinged at the top of the window and angle outward from the wall with the help of telescoping arms. The support arms typically are adjustable from 60- to 90-degree angles. The shutters protect against wind while providing light, ventilation and privacy control in everyday use. They often are used in sunny and coastal environments and can give a home a distinct, tropical appearance.

  • Cost: $15 to $20 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Bahama shutters permanently attach to the home and can be quickly deployed. Made of aluminum, vinyl or wood, they can easily be painted to complement or match the home.
  • Cons: Almost permanently block full vision from windows and can make a home much darker. The amount of hurricane protection they offer can vary by style and manufacturer.

Colonial shutters

As a traditional style of window protection, colonial shutters attach to the window’s side walls and fold inward to close. Permanently fixed to the window frame and held open by a clip system, they can quickly and easily be closed and secured with a brace bar when a storm approaches.

  • Cost: Moderately priced when compared with other window protection products, colonial shutters run roughly $18 to $30 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: The shutters can easily be closed by one person. They can add decorative curb appeal to a home.
  • Cons: They must be permanently installed on the house, a process that can be expensive and time-consuming. Professional installation may be required.

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College Campus Fire Safety

9/14/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/Public-Education/Resources/Safety-tip-sheets/CampusSafetyTips.pdf

FACT

  • Fires in dormitories are more common during the evening hours, between 5–11 pm, and on weekends.
  • Roughly six out of seven fires in dormitories are started by cooking.

College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked. College students living away from home should take a few minutes to make sure they are living in a fire-safe environment. Educating students on what they can do to stay safe during the school year is important and often overlooked.

SAFETY TIPS

  • Look for fully sprinklered housing when choosing a dorm or off-campus housing.
  • Make sure you can hear the building alarm system when you are in your dorm room.
  • If you live in a dormitory, make sure your sleeping room has a smoke alarm, or your dormitory suite has a smoke alarm in each living area as well as the sleeping room. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the dormitory suite should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • If you live in an apartment or house, make sure smoke alarms are installed in each sleeping room, outside every sleeping area, and on each level of the apartment unit or house. For the best protection, all smoke alarms in the apartment unit or house should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound.
  • Test all smoke alarms at least monthly.
  • Never remove batteries or disable the alarm.
  • Learn your building’s evacuation plan and practice all drills as if they were the real thing.
  • If you live off campus, have a fire escape plan with two ways out of every room.
  • When the smoke alarm or fire alarm sounds, get out of the building quickly and stay out.
  • Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
  • Cook only when you are alert, not sleepy or drowsy from medicine or alcohol.
  • Check with your local fire department for any restrictions before using a barbeque grill, fire pit, or chimenea.
  • Check your school’s rules before using electrical appliances in your room.

Smoking Sense

If you smoke, smoke outside and only where it is permitted, Use sturdy, deep, nontip ashtrays. Don’t smoke in bed or when you’ve been drinking or are drowsy.

Candle Care

Burn candles only if the school permits their use. A candle is an open flame and should be placed away from anything that can burn. Never leave a candle unattended. Blow it out when you leave the room or go to sleep.

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Get disaster relief from the IRS

9/5/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/money-guides/disaster-relief-from-the-irs-1.aspx

Author: Kay Bell

After people endure a disaster, taxes are probably the last thing on their minds. But tax laws do offer some help for loss victims. And victims of a presidentially declared disaster could use their tax filing to obtain much-needed cash.

Taxpayers who itemize are allowed by the IRS to deduct casualty losses — “the damage, destruction or loss of property from an identifiable event that is sudden, unexpected or unusual.” Usually, this means waiting to claim the loss on your next income tax filing.

However, when a house, car or business is damaged or destroyed by an event deemed a major disaster by the president, the wait for tax refund money attributable to disaster losses is cut dramatically. In these extreme cases, taxpayers can deduct their losses in the tax year before the event happened by filing an amended return.

When the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, announces that the president declares major disasters in certain areas, usually in the wake of a major storm, the way is cleared for special federal help, including tax options.

Major disaster tax options

Disaster-related tax relief generally includes extended filing deadlines and easing of related penalties for individuals and businesses located in the designated disaster areas. The relief also usually applies to those whose tax records are located in the damaged regions — at an accountant’s office, for example — and workers from any location who are there providing help to victims.

In addition, taxpayers in federal disaster areas have the option of choosing which tax year to claim the disaster losses. Depending on when the catastrophe occurred, filers can amend a previous year’s tax return and claim the catastrophic losses they suffered on the old return. In many instances, amended filing will make the individual eligible for an immediate tax refund — money that could be used to live on or begin repairs.

This often is the case for filers who didn’t itemize deductions the previous year; if the total of the casualty losses and any other itemized deductions will amount to more than the standard deduction they originally took, refiling is generally to their advantage.

Even taxpayers who did itemize might find an amended return worthwhile if the disaster damage produces more than originally deducted.

Not the best move for everyone

While the option to time-shift federal disaster casualty losses to the previous year is a great advantage for some, it’s not the best move for all taxpayers.

Some storm victims might find that while their losses are substantial, they aren’t sufficient to meet two tax-law limits on casualty claims. First, you must reduce the amount you can claim by $100. Then, you have to reduce the total of all your casualty losses by 10 percent of your adjusted gross income. You also have to subtract any insurance money you got for the loss.

Tax experts also note that people who had very high taxable income the year in which they could claim the losses and expect very low income the year of the disaster might be able to deduct more of their losses by waiting until they file their return the following year.

 

The deadline for choosing this option usually is the due date of a filer’s current year return.

So evaluate your individual circumstances — tax, damage and financial recovery needs — carefully. And be sure that the calamity is a certified federal disaster to get the immediate relief.

Paperwork you’ll have to file

If you meet the loss limits, the process to claim them is the same regardless of which tax year you choose to file the claim.

The first step is gathering the proper forms. To claim disaster losses, you must file the long Form 1040 individual tax return plus Form 4684 to figure and report your casualty loss and Schedule A to itemize your loss deduction. If you need to file an amended return to claim losses, use Form 1040X instead.

Then determine how the damage has hurt your property’s fair market value. This is a two-part valuation: what your property was worth immediately before the catastrophe and what it’s worth after.

The pre-disaster value is your “adjusted basis.” For homes, this usually is the cost of the property plus certain adjustments such as improvements that add to the structure’s value; for vehicles or other personal property, it may be depreciation that reduces its value. Get an appraisal for the post-disaster value of the property and compare it with your adjusted basis. The difference between the two amounts is your loss from the casualty.

Once the loss is determined, use Form 4684 to figure the deductible amount of your casualty loss. You must reduce the initial loss claim amount by any insurance or other reimbursement you have received. If you have insurance on your property, you must submit a claim to use the damage to it as a casualty loss. In other words, you can’t decide you don’t want to pay the deductible your insurance would require and then use the total, unreimbursed loss amount as your casualty claim. And all insurance payments must be used to repair or replace your property, or any excess not used for these purposes could be a taxable gain to you.

Then this is where the $100 mentioned earlier comes into play. You further reduce your loss by that amount before finally reducing the total yet again by 10 percent of your adjusted gross income to get to your final casualty loss deduction.

Figuring the tax costs of damages

The following work sheet shows the computations that a hypothetical Tom Taxpayer, who suffered through a federally declared flood disaster, had to make. The water substantially damaged Tom’s home, the property inside and his car. Insurance covered only a part of the losses.

Tom’s adjusted gross income is $60,000, and that’s what he uses to figure his casualty deduction. Tom was off work — and without pay — for the week that his employer was closed during a flood in May 2014. Unfortunately, Tom can’t claim the lost income. The IRS provides no deduction for missed wages, even in the event of federal disasters.

Cleanup and repair costs

Tom was able to get such a good tax result from his difficult situation because he kept track of what he spent to clean up and repair his property, the main concerns after a disaster strikes.

Keep in mind, however, that the tax laws won’t allow you to specifically get back that $5,000 you paid to have the carpets cleaned after the flood. There is no place on Form 4684 for you to enter this expense and have it directly count as part of your casualty loss deduction.

But because your flooring was damaged by the floods, you can use what you spent to repair it as a measure of how much your home’s property value was reduced by the storm. This in turn will give you a more accurate assessment of your property’s damage and the tax deduction value of the loss suffered.

In Tom’s case above, the $75,000 post-disaster value of his home takes the floor damage into account. If the carpets didn’t need the professional cleaning, then his home might be worth $80,000. This would mean that the amount he could claim as a casualty loss would be only $22,900, and his tax relief would be less.

The IRS notes that expenses for repairs should take care of the damage only. You can’t have the repair crew improve on the original state of your property.

Record-keeping requirements

And even though the IRS allows disaster victims some tax leeway, the agency still demands that casualty losses, like every deduction, be substantiated and supported.

The IRS does not require you to keep your records in a particular way, only that you keep them in a manner that allows you and the IRS to determine your correct tax. While you don’t have to submit your documentation with your return, you should keep your records handy and be able to show the following if asked.

You should be able to document:

  • The type of casualty and when it occurred.
  • That the loss amount claimed was a direct result of the casualty.
  • That you were the owner of the property or, if you leased it, that you were contractually liable to the owner for the damage.

The simplest way to track loss substantiation is in your checkbook. There you can enter income and loan or insurance reimbursement deposits along with all checks written for expenses accrued in connection with your disaster loss. Be specific: Note amounts, sources of deposits and types of expenses.

Holding on to other documents, such as receipts and sales slips, also can help prove a deduction. Keep your records in an orderly fashion, such as placing documents related to a particular event in a designated envelope, and, where applicable, store them by year and type of income or expense.

And don’t forget your camera. Photographs showing the original condition of the property and ones taken after the disaster struck can be helpful in establishing the condition and value of your property.

Other filing rules

When you do send in your amended return, explain that the refiling was due to casualty losses incurred in a federal disaster and attach Form 4684 to show how you figured your loss. Be sure to specify the date or dates of the disaster and the city, county and state where the damaged or destroyed property was located when the disaster occurred.

And what if you thought you escaped, only to find out that the disaster was just a bit slow in arriving? This might be the case if you live in a federal disaster area and state or local officials decide that your home, even though it suffered only minor damage, must be moved or torn down for public safety reasons, such as ensuing mudslides.

You still can take advantage of the casualty loss deduction as long as the government-ordered demolition or relocation of a home is issued within 120 days after the original federal disaster declaration. It might be government contractors doing the damage this time, but your resulting loss is treated just as if it were damaged in the natural calamity.

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Hurricane insurance deductibles can make your policy stingier when a big storm hits

8/27/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/hurricane-insurance-deductibles-what-when.aspx

Author: Jay MacDonald

Homeowners going through their first hurricane can be shocked by the unharnessed power of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, once the storm passes, they’re often stunned a second time by a special — and costly — hurricane insurance deductible they didn’t know was buried in their home insurance policy.

Hurricane deductibles were a result of Hurricane Andrew, which slammed into South Florida in 1992 and left insurers holding the bag for $15.5 billion in losses. At the time, it was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, although Hurricane Katrina now tops that list, according to the New York-based trade group Insurance Information Institute.

In Andrew’s aftermath, insurers in coastal areas along the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico now issue home insurance policies with a separate, percentage-based deductible for hurricane-related damage, in addition to the standard homeowners deductible. Hurricane deductibles are applied in 19 states and the District of Columbia, the institute says.

How hurricane deductibles work

When your policy has a hurricane deductible and one of those big storms hits, you typically will be on the hook for 2%-5% of your home’s insured value before your coverage for the damage kicks in. The out-of-pocket cost can be much higher than what you’d face with the dollar-amount deductibles commonly used for fire damage and theft.

If the home you insured for $300,000 has a 5% hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage as defined by the policy. With a standard, non-hurricane deductible, you might pay just the first $500 of a home insurance claim out of your own pocket.

In some states, homeowners may be able to get a dollar-amount hurricane deductible by agreeing to pay a higher premium, though in high-risk shore areas the percentage deductibles may be unavoidable.

Hurricane deductible ‘triggers’

A hurricane insurance deductible won’t apply unless a certain threshold of storminess has been crossed.

The “trigger” can vary depending on the state and the insurance company, but it might be activated when the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch or warning or declares that a hurricane has reached a particular level of intensity, the Insurance Information Institute says.

That might mean, for example, that you won’t have to worry about your policy’s hurricane deductible unless the weather service has determined that a Category 1 hurricane has made landfall. You should ask your insurance agent about the trigger for your deductible, says Jeanne Salvatore, an institute spokeswoman.

“Everyone, no matter where they live, should make sure they understand what is and is not covered under their home insurance policy, as well as how their deductibles work,” she says.

It’s got to be a hurricane

One important catch with a policy’s hurricane deductible clause is that the property damage must involve a named hurricane. As Superstorm Sandy demonstrated in 2012, millions of dollars can hang in the balance if a storm is not given official hurricane status prior to landfall.

The National Weather Service determined that Sandy lacked the sustained winds of 75 mph necessary to qualify as a hurricane when it hit the East Coast.

Even when a hurricane deductible does not apply, homeowners can still find themselves on the hook for hefty out-of-pocket costs. David Bresnahan, client manager for The Horton Group, an Illinois-based insurance brokerage, says some homeowners hit by Sandy were surprised to find themselves subject to a similar percentage-based “windstorm deductible,” which applies regardless of any hurricane declaration.

“At the end of the day, the carriers are going to make a decision that might be based on underwriting standards, and it might be based on the public relations impact,” he says.

An underappreciated upside

Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based insurance consumer group, says insurers faced with Sandy-style line calls would be wise to waive their hurricane insurance deductibles, as most did following the superstorm.

That’s a small price to pay, Bach says, in a storm where many of the claims may be excluded from homeowners policies anyway, either because they involve flooding, for which flood insurance is needed, or because they arose from a combination of insured and uninsured perils.

Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute, says despite the potential hit to policyholders’ pockets, hurricane deductibles can benefit homeowners.

“There is an advantage to a hurricane deductible that people overlook when the storm’s not there, and that is, it gives you less-costly insurance today,” she says. “It’s something that saves people money when the wind doesn’t blow.”

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Fire Safety - The Escape Plan

8/18/2018 (Permalink)

Source: http://www.huffinsurance.com/blog/entryid/3927/fire-safety-the-escape-plan

Author: 

Whether it was at school, or at work in an office building, we have all been through fire drills numerous times during our lifetimes.  But let me ask you this.  Have you ever had a fire drill at your home?

I bet if I put this poll out there to the public, the “NO” answer would win by a staggering majority.  And at this point, I admit that I would be in the majority with my answer.  But after reading up on this subject, that will change in the not so distant future. 

The first few steps of the plan involves preparation.

  • Make sure that you have smoke alarms in the right areas of your home and that testing them to make sure they are functional.  The old adage of having one alarm on each floor does not apply anymore.  You should have one alarm in each bedroom, one outside of each bedroom, and at least one on the other floors in the home.  And it is best to have interconnected alarms throughout the home, so when one alarm is triggered, all of the alarms sound at once.  
  • Make sure your house number is CLEARLY visible from the road.  You do not want to delay the fire department from getting to your home.
  • Make sure everyone knows the emergency numbers to call, even small children.  
  • Then you need to pull your household members together and make a plan.  Start by walking through the home and locating ALL possible escape routes.  IF you have younger children, you may want to consider drawing up a floor map with the exits clearly mapped (we have all seen these types of maps in hotels before).  
  • Make sure each room above ground level has an escape ladder and that everyone is trained and knows how to use the ladders.  During a fire, a window might just be the only way out, and you do not want to learn on the fly during a fire.
  • Designate an outside meeting place for to gather after evacuating the house.  And make sure you mark the meeting place on your escape plan.  This is the best way to account for all household members during the hectic emergency event.
  • If there are infants, small children, or adults with mobility problems, make sure the plan designate who is responsible for getting them to safety, with backups designated.  The last thing you want to happen is to assume someone else is getting them and then get outside to realize that no one did.
  • Go over your plan on a regular basis to make sure everyone understands their responsibilities and know the best way out should a fire occur.

Putting your Plan to the test:

  • Practice your plan at least twice per year.  And make the drill as realistic as possible, including having a drill in the middle of the night occasionally.  This is important so you can see if there are household members who will not be awakened by the smoke alarms.  This needs to be noted so responsibility can be assigned to get them up and out should there be a fire in the middle of the night.
  • In a fire, you will not always be able to just walk out of the front or back doors.  So practice exiting the house from the windows.  And if you have more than on floor, practice using the escape ladders from the second floor windows.
  • Fires happen and the can be devastating, so having a plan and knowing what to do beforehand and make a difference between making it out safely and not making it out.  Sadly, no plan can ever guarantee that you will make it out safely, but having plan and practicing the plan, will increase your odds of doing so.

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