Recent Storm Damage Posts

BE PREPARED FOR WINTER DRIVING

12/20/2019 (Permalink)

Before You Go 

  • If you must travel, make sure you share your travel plans and route with someone before you leave.
  • If you become stranded in bad winter weather, do not leave your car. Don’t try to push your vehicle out of snow. Light flares in front and behind the car and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, mud or any object.
  • Besides checking the weather, it’s important to have a mechanic check the condition of the following vehicle systems before heading out on the road.
  • Make sure tires are properly inflated.
  • Keep your gas tank filled above halfway to avoid a gas line freeze-up.
  • Avoid driving when you have the flu, which can reduce your reaction time almost six times as much as moderate alcohol intake. 

Winter Driving Tips

  1. Beware of black ice. Roads may look clear, but they may still be slippery.
  2. Stuck without traction and lacking sand or cat litter? In a pinch, you can take the floor mats out of your car, place them next to the tires, and slowly inch the car onto and across the mats.
  3. Make sure windows are defrosted and clear. And be sure to clear snow and ice from the top of the vehicle! Gently rub a small, moistened, cloth bag of iodized salt on the outside of your windshield to prevent the ice and snow from sticking.
  4. To restore proper windshield wiper blade action, smooth the rubber blades with fine sandpaper to remove any grit and pits.
  5. Fog-proof your mirrors and the inside of your windshields with shaving cream. Spray and wipe it off with paper towels.
  6. Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds. 
  7. If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  8. Do not use cruise control in wintry conditions.
  9. Look and steer in the direction you want to go. Accelerate and decelerate slowly.
  10. Know whether you have antilock brakes, which will “pump” the brakes for you in a skid.
  11. If possible, don’t stop when going uphill.
  12. Signal distress with a brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna or in a rolled up window.

WINTER EMERGENCY KIT

12/19/2019 (Permalink)

Keep the following supplies in your winter car kit. Emergencies can happen to anyone. Prepare for the worst-case scenario, especially in wintertime!

Whether you run out of fuel, puncture a tire, or slip off a snowy road, a car emergency kit can help you get back on the road safely and quickly.

In addition to the items listed below, a cell phone is highly advised. Make sure your cell phone is charged every time you get in the car and keep a cell phone charger in your car.

CAR EMERGENCY KIT LIST

Keep the below items in a bag in your trunk. Ideally, we’d suggest a clear, plastic container so it’s easy to see and locate everything. You can buy a pre-packaged kit or create your own. 

Minimum Supplies:

In an emergency situation, in addition to a full tank of gas and fresh antifreeze, the National Safety Council recommends having these with you at all times:

  • Blankets, mittens, socks and hats
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Flashlight, plus extra batteries (or a hand-crank flashlight)
  • Jumper cables
  • First-aid kit (band-aides, adhesive tape, antiseptic wipes, gauze pads, antiseptic cream, medical wrap). See a first-aid kit checklist.
  • Bottled water
  • Multi-tool (such as a Leatherman Tool or a Swiss Army Knife)
  • Road flares or reflective warning triangles
  • Windshield cleaner

Extra Supplies for Frigid Weather

For those in wintry snowy areas, add the below items to your emergency kit. (If it’s balmy all winter where you live, be thankful that you don’t need all of this stuff!)

  • A bag of sand to help with traction (or bag of non-clumping cat litter)
  • Collapsible or folding snow shovel
  • Blanket
  • Tire chains and tow strap
  • Hand warmers
  • Winter boots for longer trips
  • Sleeping bag for longer trips

Note: Use salt for de-icing driveways and roads. (Excess salinity can damage vegetation and contaminate groundwater, however. So, with this in mind, salt your driveway only when you must, and try not to use more than necessary.)

Other Essentials:

  • Small fire extinguisher (5-lb., Class B and Class C type) in case of a car fire
  • Tire gauge to check inflation pressure in all four tires and the spare tire
  • Jack and lug wrench to change a tire
  • Rags and hand cleaner (such as baby wipes)
  • Duct tape
  • Foam tire sealant for minor tire punctures
  • Rain poncho
  • Nonperishable high-energy foods such as unsalted and canned nuts, granola bars, raisins and dried fruit, peanut butter, hard candy.
  • Battery– or hand-crank–powered radio
  • Lighter and box of matches (in a waterproof container)
  • Scissors and string or cord
  • Spare change and cash
  • Compass
  • Paper maps

How to Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

12/18/2019 (Permalink)

When temperatures plummet, the risk of your pipes freezing and bursting skyrockets. In fact, burst pipes are one of the most common causes of property damage during frigid weather and can cause thousands in water damage—easily $5,000 or more, according to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (PDF).

How to Beat the Freeze

Once the temperature starts dropping outside, you should take measures inside to keep your pipes warm and water running. Research conducted by the Building Research Council at the University of Illinois shows that the “temperature alert threshold” is 20° F, especially if you have uninsulated pipes running through an uninsulated space.  

Some of the steps experts recommend may go against your better instincts of conserving water and heat, but the extra expense is nothing compared with a hefty repair bill. Here’s what to do:

Keep garage doors closed, especially if there are water supply lines in the garage.

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing, especially if your sinks are on an exterior wall. (If you have small children, be sure to remove any harmful cleaners and household chemicals.)

Let the cold water drip from a faucet served by exposed pipes. Running water through the pipe—even at a trickle—helps prevent pipes from freezing.

Keep the thermostat set to the same temperature during day and night. Again, during a cold snap is not the time to set back the thermostat at night to save a few bucks on your heating bill.

If you plan to be away during cold weather, leave the heat on in your home, set to a temperature no lower than 55° F.

For the long term, add insulation to attics, basements, and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in those areas. And to prevent drafts, seal cracks and openings around windows, doors, and at sill plates, where the house rests on its foundation.

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, you may well have a frozen pipe. “If you suspect the pipes are frozen, be careful when thawing them out because if the pipe has already burst, the water will come flowing out and flood your home,” says John Galeotafiore, who oversees Consumer Reports’ testing of home products and power gear.

If a pipe has broken, turn off the water at the main shutoff valve, which is usually at the water meter or where the main line enters the house. If the water is still running and no pipes have burst, you can take the following steps. (Of course, if you suspect a more serious problem, call a plumber.)

Turn on the faucet. As you heat the frozen pipe and the ice plug begins to melt, you want the water to be able to flow through. Running water through the pipe, as cold as it is, will help melt ice in the pipe.

Apply heat to the section of pipe using an electric heating pad wrapped around the pipe, an electric hair dryer, or a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. As tempting as it may be, do not use a blowtorch, a kerosene or propane heater, a charcoal stove, or any device with an open flame; the high heat can damage the pipes or even start a fire.

Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. Check all other faucets in your home to see whether you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Call a licensed plumber if you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe.

Space Heaters to Warm a Room

If you need supplemental heat, you can add a space heater to a room where pipes might be at risk. And though we don’t recommend using a space heater in a bathroom, if you really need one, make sure it’s plugged into an outlet with a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) and do not use an extension cord. Some space heaters have GFCI plugs, but only two in our ratings have this feature, the small DeLonghi HVF3555TB, $80, and the radiator-style DeLonghi TRN0812T, $60.

If you want to add a little extra warmth during a cold spell, here are three affordable space heaters that excel at heating a room.

Winter Weather Tips for Pets

12/17/2019 (Permalink)

  1. Know your dog’s limits! Some dogs are more susceptible to the cold than others. Short-coated, thin, elderly, or very young dogs get cold more quickly – so adjust the amount of time they stay outside! If your dog enjoys being outdoors and you will be outside longer than a few minutes, consider outfitting it with a sweater or coat to keep it warm. Hypothermia and frostbite pose major risks to dogs in winter, so remember, if it is too cold for you, it is probably too cold for your dog!
  2. Check the hood! Cats often sleep in the wheel wells of cars during the winter months to keep warm. If you start your car and a cat is sleeping on your tire, it can be severely hurt or even killed by moving engine parts. Prevent injuries by banging loudly on your hood or honking the horn before starting your car. This will wake up the cat and give it a chance to escape before starting the car.
  3. Wipe their paws! During winter walks, your dog’s paws can pick up all kinds of toxic chemicals – salt, antifreeze, or de-icers. Be sure to wipe off your dog’s paws when you return from walks to prevent him from licking it off and becoming sick. Purchase pet-safe de-icers for your home for an extra level of safety. And when wiping off your dog’s paws, remember to check for signs of injury, such as cracked or bleeding paws.
  4. Keep them leashed! More pets become lost in the winter than any other season because snowfall can disguise recognizable scents that would normally help them find their way home. Prevent your pets from becoming lost by keeping dogs leashed on walks and, just in case you are separated from your pets, make sure their collars have up-to-date contact information and they are microchipped.
  5. Avoid the ice! When walking your dog, be sure to avoid frozen lakes and ponds. Your dog could be seriously hurt or even killed if the ice breaks.
  6. Leave them home! Just as hot cars are dangerous for pets in the summer, cold cars pose a threat as well! Only take your pets in the car if it is necessary, and never leave them unattended.
  7. Be seen! Due to Daylight Savings, many of us are relegated to walking our dogs in the dark. Keep yourself and your dog are safe by wearing reflective gear (clothing, leash, collar, etc) and keeping your dog close when walking on the street.
  8. Give them shelter! Ideally, all pets should live inside. If your pets live outdoors primarily, bring them indoors during sub-zero temperatures. For the rest of the winter, provide them with a dry, draft-free shelter that is large enough to allow them to sit and lay down comfortably, but small enough to conserve body heat.  The floor should be raised a few inches off the ground and covered with cedar shavings or straw.  Turn the shelter so it faces away from the wind and cover the doorway with waterproof burlap or heavy plastic. Also, pets who spend a lot of time outside need more food to replace energy lost from trying to stay warm. Use plastic food and water dishes instead of metal – when the temperature is low enough, your pets’ tongue can become stuck to metal.
  9. Avoid spills! Antifreeze attracts cats and dogs because it is very sweet to taste, but it is extremely poisonous and can cause serious illness or death when ingested. Be sure to clean up any antifreeze that spills in your garage, and keep the bottle somewhere your pets cannot access.
  10. Be prepared! Winter brings extreme weather that can cause power outages. Have an emergency plan and make sure they include your pets! Have an emergency kit with enough food, water, and medication to last your pets at least five days. Most likely you will never need it, but if you do, you will be thankful you planned ahead!

Important Winter Car Care Tips

12/16/2019 (Permalink)

Important Winter Car Care Tips

Keep your car running smoothly in the winter months.

From low tire pressure to frozen fuel lines to road salt damage, winter can take its toll on your vehicle. Here are five car care tips to prevent long-term damage:

  1. Swap out regular tires for winter tires. Snow or not, if you live in an area where temperatures regularly fall below 45 degrees, winter tires are recommended. They're made to give you better traction while turning or stopping on cold pavement.
  2. Check tire pressure weekly. Driving on underinflated tires can cause them to wear down prematurely and lose traction on icy or slippery surfaces. Your tires lose a pound of pressure with every 10-degree drop in temperature.
  3. Keep your fuel tank half full. During winter weather, it's a good idea to keep at least half a tank of fuel in the vehicle in the event of an emergency or if you get stuck in the snow and need to wait for rescue. For longer road trips, plan stops for gas in advance.
  4. Add a protective layer. A coat of polymer wax can create a barrier against road salt, grime, snow, sleet and more. Couple that with high-pressure car washes after winter storms to rinse away buildup in hard-to-reach areas such as wheels, wheel wells and underbody.
  5. Protect your windshield wipers. If you park outdoors, leave the wipers in the raised position to prevent them from freezing to the windshield. Never use your wiper blades to remove ice, snow or frost from the windshield; use an ice scraper instead.

What's the Difference Between Snow, Sleet, and Freezing Rain?

12/13/2019 (Permalink)

As we make it through the winter, meteorologists in many parts of the country are predicting all sorts of cold-weather precipitation: snow, sleet, freezing rain. But what's the difference?

All precipitation falls through the atmosphere on its way to the Earth's surface. Imagine a drop or flake falling through a long tube that contains the air between the clouds and the Earth.

The air inside the imaginary tube is the atmosphere. Differences in temperatures in different parts of the atmosphere account for the differences we see between snow, sleet, and freezing rain.

The liquid precipitation that falls to Earth's surface is rain. Rain can begin as snow, but by the time it reaches the Earth's surface, it has melted because the temperature closer to Earth is warmer.

If you've ever thought it strange that it's raining when the temperature outside is below freezing, it's probably because the temperature higher up in the atmosphere is still above freezing.

Snow forms in clouds at temperatures below freezing. As snow falls through the atmosphere, the air remains at least 32° F or colder. In order for a snowflake to reach Earth, it must remain frozen from cloud to surface.

But can it be too cold to snow? Sometimes! The colder it gets, the less water vapor there will be in the air…and less water vapor in the air means less chance of snow.

Sleet occurs when a snowflake falls through the atmosphere and warms up a bit before refreezing. The snowflake begins its journey frozen. As it passes through a thin layer of warm air in the atmosphere, it melts a bit.

It then re-enters another pocket of cold air before reaching the surface. The snowflake refreezes and becomes an ice pellet we call sleet. Sleet typically bounces when it hits the ground.

Freezing rain follows a similar journey as sleet, but instead of a thin pocket of warm air, freezing rain falls through a larger pocket of warm air in the middle of its journey. Freezing rain begins as snow, but when it reaches the warm pocket, it melts and becomes rain.

Before hitting the ground, it passes through a very shallow pocket of cold air, which cools it some but not enough to turn it into sleet. Instead, when the water droplet reaches the surface of the Earth and comes in contact with cold objects (such as cars, streets, or trees), it freezes immediately and turns into ice.

Winter Weather Alerts, Watches and Advisories

12/11/2019 (Permalink)

Winter weather related Warnings, Watches and Advisories are issued by your local National Weather Service office. Each office knows the local area and will issue Warnings, Watches or Advisories based on local criteria. For example, the amount of snow that triggers a “Winter Storm Warning” in the Northern Plains is typically much higher than the amount needed to trigger a “Winter Storm Warning” in the Southeast.

Warnings: Take Action!

Watches: Be Prepared

Advisories: Be Aware

Here are some more key terms to understand:

  • Freezing Rain: Rain that freezes when it hits the ground; creating a coating of ice on roads, walkways, trees and power lines.
  • Sleet: Rain that turns to ice pellets before reaching the ground. Sleet also causes moisture on roads to freeze and become slippery.
  • Wind Chill: A measure of how cold people feel due to the combined effect of wind and cold temperatures; the Wind Chill Index is based on the rate of heat loss from exposed skin. Both cold temperatures and wind remove heat from the body; as the wind speed increases during cold conditions, a body loses heat more quickly. Eventually, the internal body temperature also falls and hypothermia can develop. Animals also feel the effects of wind chill; but inanimate objects, such as vehicles and buildings, do not. They will only cool to the actual air temperature, although much faster during windy conditions.

What is a Lake Effect Snow?

12/10/2019 (Permalink)

Lake effect snow is common across the Great Lakes region during the late fall and winter. Lake Effect snow occurs when cold air, often originating from Canada, moves across the open waters of the Great Lakes. As the cold air passes over the unfrozen and relatively warm waters of the Great Lakes, warmth and moisture are transferred into the lowest portion of the atmosphere. The air rises, clouds form and grow into narrow band that produces 2 to 3 inches of snow per hour or more.

Wind direction is a key component in determining which areas will receive lake effect snow. Heavy snow may be falling in one location, while the sun may be shining just a mile or two away in either direction. The physical geography of the land and water is also important. National Weather Service meteorologists consider these factors as well as others when forecasting lake effect snow.

What is a Blizzard

12/9/2019 (Permalink)

The term "blizzard" is often tossed around when big winter storms blow in. But the National Weather service has an official definition of blizzard:

A blizzard is a storm with "considerable falling or blowing snow" and winds in excess of 35 mph and visibilities of less than 1/4 mile for at least 3 hours.

While blizzard conditions may occur for shorter periods of time, the weather service is particular about its warning system:

When all the blizzard conditions are expected, the National Weather Service will issue a "blizzard warning." When just two of the above conditions are expected, a "winter storm warning" or "heavy snow warning" may be issued.

Winter Storm Reality Check

12/5/2019 (Permalink)

Here's your winter storm reality check: Are you prepared?

It’s that time of year. Winter is here and with it, severe weather events are inevitable. Between frozen pipes, falling tree limbs, space heater fires, and black ice, dangers are abound when freezing temperatures combine with even slight precipitation.

Each year, winter storms create more than $1 billion in insured losses. In preparation for the 2019 winter season, the PCI has drawn up a winter storm preparedness reality check for property owners to take to ensure they are ready.

In their reality checklist, PCI poses the following questions to homeowners, renters and motorists:

  • Do you allow extra space to brake when driving during the winter?
  • Have you prepared an emergency travel kit for your car and/or home?
  • Have you checked your attic and pipes to ensure they have proper insulation?
  • Have you made sure your heating system and chimney have been cleaned and inspected?
  • Have you talked with your insurance agent or company to review and understand your coverage?
  • Have you made sure home smoke detectors and carbon monoxide alarms are installed and working?

If you found yourself answering “no” to any of these questions, PCI has winter storm preparedness information available in its Winter Storm Headquarters that may help.

Winter Storm Survival

12/4/2019 (Permalink)

Outside:

  • Seek some form of shelter immediately. Blowing winds can cause the wind chill to reduce your core body temperature to dangerous levels. The risk of frostbite and hypothermia increase every minute you are exposed to the cold weather.
  • If you are wet, try to get dry. Lighting a small fire will not only provide warmth but will enable your clothing to dry out.
  • Deep snow can actually act as an insulation from the wind and cold temperatures. Digging a snow cave can actually save your life.
  • Stay hydrated, but DO NOT eat snow. (Because your body must heat the ice in order to melt it into water, you'd actually lose heat.) If you do get your water from snow, make sure to melt it before drinking it. (For example, use a heating source or indirect body heat like a canteen inside your coat, but not directly next to your skin.) 

In a Car or Truck:

  • Never leave your vehicle. If you are stranded, it will offer a form of protection from overexposure to the cold. A single person walking through the snow is also harder to find than a stranded car or truck.
  • It is okay to run the car for short periods to provide some heat. Remember to crack the windows a small amount to allow for the circulation of fresh air. Dangerous exhaust fumes, including carbon monoxide, can build up very quickly. This is especially true if the tailpipe is buried in the snow.
  • Keep yourself moving. A car offers little room for you to keep your blood flowing, but exercise is a must. Clap your hands, stomp your feet, and move around as much as possible at least once an hour. In addition to keeping your body moving, keep your mind and spirit from getting "down," depressed, or overly stressed.
  • Make the car visible for a rescue. Hang bits of bright colored cloth or plastic from the windows. If the snow has stopped falling, open the hood of the car as a signal of distress.

At Home:

  • If the electricity goes out, use an alternative form of heat with caution. Fireplaces and kerosene heaters can be dangerous without proper ventilation. Keep children away from any alternative heat source.
  • Stick to one room for heat and close off unnecessary rooms in the house. Make sure there are no air leaks in the room. Keep sunlight streaming through the windows in the day, but cover all windows at night to keep warm air in and cold outside air out.
  • Keep hydrated and nourished in case the heat is out for an extended period of time. An unhealthy body will be more susceptible to the cold than a healthy one.
  • Pets must also be protected from the cold. When temperatures drop below freezing, outdoor pets should be moved indoors or to a sheltered area to protect them from the cold.

Protecting Your Family - Winter Storm Prep

12/2/2019 (Permalink)

How to Prepare Your Family for a Winter Storm

  • Talk with your family about what to do if a winter storm watch or warning is issued. Discussing winter storms ahead of time helps reduce fear, particularly for young children.
  • Have your vehicle winterized before the winter storm season to decrease your chance of being stranded in cold weather.
  • Have a mechanic check your battery, antifreeze, wipers and windshield washer fluid, ignition system, thermostat, lights, flashing hazard lights, exhaust system, heater, brakes, defroster, and oil.
  • Install good winter tires with adequate tread. All-weather radials are usually adequate but some jurisdictions require vehicles to be equipped with chains or snow tires with studs.
  • Keep in your vehicle: - A windshield scraper and small broom - A small sack of sand for generating traction under wheels and a set of tire chains or traction mats - Matches in a waterproof container - A brightly colored (preferably red) cloth to tie to the antenna - An emergency supply kit, including warm clothing.
  • Keep your vehicle’s gas tank full so you can leave right away in an emergency and to keep the fuel line from freezing.
  • Keep a supply of non-clumping kitty litter to make walkways and steps less slippery.
  • Service snow removal equipment before the winter storm season and maintain it in good working order.
  • Keep handy a warm coat, gloves or mittens, hat, water-resistant boots, and extra blankets and warm clothing for each member of the household.

Winter Storm Preparedness

12/1/2019 (Permalink)

Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters. Learn what to do to keep your loved ones safe during blizzards and other winter storms!

Winter Storm WARNING: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours.

Blizzard WARNING: Sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, plus considerable falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, expected to prevail for three hours or longer.

EMERGENCY DISINFECTION OF DRINKING WATER AFTER DISASTER

10/18/2019 (Permalink)

USE ONLY WATER THAT HAS BEEN PROPERLY DISINFECTED FOR DRINKING, COOKING, MAKING ANY PREPARED DRINK, OR FOR BRUSHING TEETH

1. Use bottled water that has not been exposed to flood waters if it is available.

2. If you don’t have bottled water, you should boil water to make it safe. Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for boiling. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.

3. If you can’t boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water. If the water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection. Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach for each gallon of water, stir it well and let it stand for 30 minutes before you use it. Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.

4. If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice.

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After Disaster

10/17/2019 (Permalink)

Carbon Monoxide Poisoning:
Carbon Monoxide exposure is common after a disaster. Fact sheets review basic prevention tips and answers frequently asked questions.

Prevention Guidelines You Can Prevent Carbon Monoxide Exposure ? Do have your heating system, water heater and any other gas, oil, or coal burning appliances serviced by a qualified technician every year. ? Do install a battery-operated CO detector in your home and check or replace the battery when you change the time on your clocks each spring and fall. If the detector sounds leave your home immediately and call 911. ? Do seek prompt medical attention if you suspect CO poisoning and are feeling dizzy, light-headed, or nauseous. ? Don't use a generator, charcoal grill, camp stove, or other gasoline or charcoal-burning device inside your home, basement, or garage or near a window. ? Don't run a car or truck inside a garage attached to your house, even if you leave the door open. ? Don’t burn anything in a stove or fireplace that isn’t vented. ? Don’t heat your house with a gas oven.

Be Informed

9/25/2019 (Permalink)

Be Informed

While flooding can happen at any time, floods can result from rain or melting snow making them common in the spring. Flooding is a temporary overflow of water onto land that is normally dry. Floods are the most common natural disaster in the United States. Failing to evacuate flooded areas, entering flood waters, or remaining after a flood has passed can result in injury or death.

Know what disasters and hazards could affect your area, how to get emergency alerts, and where you would go if you and your family need to evacuate. Check out the related links to learn what to do before, during and after each type of emergency.

  • Active Shooter
  • Attacks in Public Places
  • Avalanche
  • Bioterrorism
  • Chemical Emergencies
  • Cybersecurity
  • Drought
  • Earthquakes
  • Emergency Alerts
  • Explosions
  • Extreme Heat
  • Floods
  • Hazardous Materials Incidents
  • Home Fires
  • Household Chemical Emergencies
  • Hurricanes
  • Landslides & Debris Flow
  • Nuclear Explosion
  • Nuclear Power Plants
  • Pandemic
  • Power Outages
  • Radiological Dispersion Device
  • Severe Weather
  • Snowstorms & Extreme Cold
  • Space Weather
  • Thunderstorms & Lightning
  • Tornadoes
  • Tsunamis
  • Volcanoes
  • Wildfires

Community Preparedness: The Facts

9/20/2019 (Permalink)

Community Preparedness: The Facts

Research on preparedness shows that people who believe themselves "prepared" for disasters often aren't as prepared as they think. Forty percent of survey respondents did not have household plans, 80 percent had not conducted home evacuation drills, and nearly 60 percent did not know their community's evacuation routes.

Nearly 20 percent of survey respondents reported having a disability that would affect their capacity to respond to an emergency situation, but shockingly only one out of four of them had made arrangements specific to their disability to help them respond safely in the event of an emergency.

Our nation's emergency managers, firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMT/paramedics, and other emergency responders do an incredible job of keeping us safe, but they can't do it alone. We must all embrace our individual responsibility to be prepared – in doing so, we contribute to the safety and security of the nation as well.

Becoming more prepared in case of an emergency is easier than you might think. Whether it's your home, your neighborhood, your place of business, or your school, you can take a few simple steps to prepare your community. 

Pet Preparedness

9/19/2019 (Permalink)

Pet Preparedness Social Media Toolkit

The Pet Preparedness Social Media Toolkit has safety and preparedness messages you can share on your social media channels. You can either copy these messages directly or customize them to reach your audience.

What you should know about Pet Preparedness

  • Include your pets in your emergency plans

  • Build a separate emergency kit for your pets

  • Make sure and keep digital records and/or pictures to identify your pet after a disaster in case you become separated

  • Create a list of places that accept pets if an emergency happens

Prepare with Your Kids

9/18/2019 (Permalink)

Get Your Kids On Your Team!

Preparing for emergencies shouldn't fall on your shoulders alone. Young children and teens alike need to be part of the process — for their own safety and sense of empowerment.

  • Work together to build an emergency kit.
  • Sit down as a family to talk about your communications plan.
  • Role-play what you would do during a disaster.
  • Hold fire drills in your house.

Youth Preparedness

9/16/2019 (Permalink)

Emergencies and disasters can happen at any time, often without warning. Disaster planning, response, and recovery efforts must take into account the unique needs of children, who make up roughly a quarter of the U.S. population.  

Starting or getting involved with a youth preparedness program is a great way to enhance a community’s resilience and help develop future generations of prepared adults. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) offers numerous resources that can help.

9 Priority Steps for Creating a Nation of Prepared Youth

  1. Elevate the importance of youth preparedness learning programs at the national, state, and local levels.
  2. Evaluate the quality and effectiveness of existing and new youth preparedness programs.
  3. Support the implementation of youth preparedness learning programs.
  4. Create positive relationships between youth and the first responder community.
  5. Link youth preparedness to family and community participation, especially in communities where English may not be the first language spoken (or understood) among adults, in other underrepresented communities, and inclusive of individuals with access and functional needs.
  6. Make school preparedness a key component of youth preparedness.
  7. Build and strengthen productive partnerships among stakeholder agencies and organizations.
  8. Identify opportunities to embed youth preparedness in youth culture.
  9. Design a sustaining, locally driven model for developing, designing, and delivering programming.

Weather warnings on the go!

9/13/2019 (Permalink)

Imagine this: You’re driving down the highway, humming along to your favorite tunes, when the cell phone stowed in your bag suddenly makes a strange noise. To investigate, you take the next exit and safely pull over to check the screen. Good thing you did: Your phone just alerted you to a tornado a few miles away in same county you’re driving through.

Sound plausible? It is. America’s wireless industry is helping to build a Weather-Ready Nation through a nationwide text emergency alert system, called Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA), which will warn you when weather threatens.

Frequently Asked Questions 

  1.  What are WEA messages?
    Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier. Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service.
    No signup is required! Alerts are sent automatically to WEA-capable phones during an emergency.
     
  2. Why is this important to me?
    Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, alerts can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm's way, without need to download an app or subscribe to a service.
     
  3. What types of alerts will I receive?
    • Extreme Weather and Hydrologic Warnings
    • Local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action
    • AMBER Alerts
    • Presidential Alerts during a national emergency

Don't Wait. Communicate.

9/12/2019 (Permalink)

Severe weather and other emergencies can strike with little or no warning and can have disastrous impacts. Whether at home or on the go, be aware of emergency plans in place wherever your family spends their time: work, daycare and school, houses of worship, sports events and commuting. Be disaster ready, wherever you may be.

Drills & Exercises

9/10/2019 (Permalink)

Put together a list of the most likely threats you will face based on:

  • Historical data on past disasters that have affected your region.
  • Local crimes stats and dangers that are specific to your geographical location.
  • Anything that is unique to your situation, such as economic problems, medical issues, local dangers, and people in your group who require extra attention.

Based on the identified threats, you need to put together the following plans.

  • A Home Evacuation Plan: This is a basic plan that lists the steps you will take during an emergency that would make your home unsafe; this includes planning for things like a fire, an earthquake or home invasions.
  • A bug out plan: Your bug out plan takes your evacuation plan to the next level. It takes into consideration disasters that would cause you to have to leave not only your home but your neighborhood, city, and possibly even state.
  • A get home plan: If you work away from home, travel, or even drive to the local grocery store you should have some sort of plan that accounts for disasters that happen while away from home.
  • A communication plan: During a disaster, it’s very likely that most communication channels will go down. You need to develop an Emergency Communications Plan, so you can immediately get ahold of those you love.

Safety Drills: Conducting routine safety drills.

Once you have your plans in place, you need to figure out if those plans actually work. One of the best ways to prepare yourself and your family for disasters and threats, as well as discover any holes in your plans, is to conduct periodic emergency safety drills.

These drills should be based on the threats you identified in your planning. While everyone’s drills will be a little different, here are some ideas to get you started.

Home Fire Drills

When it comes to likely threats, fires should be on top of everyone’s list. Every year there are over 1 million fires in the United States, killing over 3,000 people and injuring tens of thousands more.

If you have children who attend public school, they are probably already pretty familiar with fire drills; so having one at home might be a good place to start.

The first time you conduct the drill, everyone in your home should be aware of the exercise. The first one should not be a surprise; you want to go through every step of the process in a slow and deliberate manner.

Once you’ve gone through the drill, and you’re sure everyone knows what they are supposed to do, you should then schedule a surprise drill early in the morning before everyone wakes up. The shock will help simulate a real emergency, and can give you a good idea how they will respond during a real fire.

Things you should include in your drill.

  • To start the drill, press the test button on your fire alarm and scream “FIRE DRILL, FIRE DRILL.” The noise from the alarm will help simulate the real deal.
  • Based on your evacuation plan, everyone in the home should follow their emergency routes out to your predetermined meeting point (usually somewhere right outside your home).
  • Practice Touching the door to see if it’s hot, and make sure everyone has an alternative route out in case the door is blocked by fire. 
  • Practice what to do in case there is smoke. Grab something to cover your mouth, Get Low and Go.
  • Throw a monkey wrench into the plan, and practice alternative routes out of the home.

Natural Disaster Drills: Safety Drills for Earthquakes, Tornadoes, and Hurricanes.

While your exact plans will vary, based on the actual disaster, these types of drills are not much different than the fire drill. The primary purpose of all of these drills is to go through the steps that you identified in your emergency planning phase, and test those plans in a mock scenario.

Things you should include in your disaster drill.

  • Make sure the drill is realistic. Try to simulate things that would happen during the disaster. Shut off the power, turn off cell phones, and conduct yourself as if you are actually in the middle of the disaster.
  • Practice your evacuation routes. Make sure everyone is familiar with the evacuation plan, and can safely make it to any meetup points that you identified in your planning.
  • Practice your communication plan. Go through your list, and make sure you can contact people without using your cell phone.
  • Practice what you would do if disaster hit while away from home.
  • Make sure you go through the steps you would actually take during the disaster. That means doing thing like grabbing your bugout bag and going through all of the steps you plan on taking during a real disaster.

Make a Plan

9/9/2019 (Permalink)

Make a plan today. Your family may not be together if a disaster strikes, so it is important to know which types of disasters could affect your area.  Know how you’ll contact one another and reconnect if separated. Establish a family meeting place that’s familiar and easy to find.

Step 1: Put together a plan by discussing these 4 questions with your family, friends, or household to start your emergency plan.

  1. How will I receive emergency alerts and warnings?

  2. What is my shelter plan?

  3. What is my evacuation route?

  4. What is my family/household communication plan?

Step 2:  Consider specific needs in your household.

As you prepare your plan tailor your plans and supplies to your specific daily living needs and responsibilities. Discuss your needs and responsibilities and how people in the network can assist each other with communication, care of children, business, pets, or specific needs like the operation of durable medical equipment. Create your own personal network for specific areas where you need assistance.  Keep in mind some these factors when developing your plan:

  • Different ages of members within your household

  • Responsibilities for assisting others

  • Locations frequented

  • Dietary needs

  • Medical needs including prescriptions and equipment

  • Disabilities or access and functional needs including devices and equipment

  • Languages spoken

  • Cultural and religious considerations

  • Pets or service animals

  • Households with school-aged children

Step 3: Fill out a Family Emergency Plan

Download and fill out a family emergency plan or use them as a guide to create your own.

Step 4: Practice your plan with your family/household

Learn your Natural Disaster Risks

9/5/2019 (Permalink)

KNOW YOUR HAZARDS

Earthquake

Earthquakes can occur suddenly and be deadly. Most earthquake-related casualties result from collapsing walls, flying glass, and falling objects.

Flood

Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States and can happen anywhere.

Hurricane

Hurricanes have the power to cause widespread devastation, and can affect both coastal and inland areas.

Tornado

Tornadoes are one of nature’s most violent storms, and can cause death, injury, and destruction within seconds.

Wildfire

Wildfires can occur anywhere and can destroy homes, businesses, infrastructure, natural resources, and agriculture

Winter Storm

Winter storms can occur anywhere and bring freezing rain, ice, snow, high winds or a combination of all these conditions. They can cause power outages that last for days or weeks; making it hard to keep warm and making travel very dangerous.

Hurricane Dorian poised to slam the Carolinas

9/4/2019 (Permalink)

Hurricane Dorian gradually leaves Florida behind Wednesday, setting its sights on the coasts of Georgia and then the Carolinas. These areas face a triple threat of “destructive winds, flooding rains, and life-threatening storm surges,” according to the National Hurricane Center.

While Dorian has stayed far enough off the coast to largely spare Florida from the worst of its wrath, it is forecast to make a much closer approach to the coastline of the Carolinas between late Wednesday and Thursday and could even make landfall. Impacts are thus expected to be more severe.

Around Charleston, S.C., for example, wind gusts could hit 80 mph, and water levels could rank among the top five levels ever recorded due to the combination of ocean surge and up to 15 inches of rain. Higher wind gusts could lash North Carolina’s Outer Banks, leading to power outages and damage.

Even the Virginia Tidewater and southern Delmarva Peninsula could endure tropical storm conditions by Friday, after which the storm is expected to finally race out to sea.

The Category 2 storm, while no longer the powerhouse that devastated the northwestern Bahamas, has expanded in size. That means its strong winds cover a larger area, capable of generating giant waves and pushing large amounts of water toward the shore. There were signs that Dorian is attempting to intensify over the waters northeast of Florida on Wednesday morning, with a ring of thunderstorms building up around its center. If this trend continues, it could mean even worse impacts for the Carolinas.

Coastal flooding is also a risk from northeastern Florida to the North Carolina Outer Banks, where water levels may rise up to seven feet above normally dry land, prompting storm-surge warnings.

The latest

As of 9 a.m. on Wednesday, the storm was 90 miles east-northeast of Daytona Beach, Fla., and moving north-northwest at 8 mph. The storm’s peak sustained winds were 105 mph, making it a high-end Category 2 storm. Dorian is expected to maintain its current intensity through Thursday.

The storm has grown larger since the weekend; hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 60 miles from the center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 175 miles.

Radar from central and northern Florida showed Dorian’s outer rain bands pivoting inland, producing heavy rain and strong winds. During the predawn hours Wednesday, peak wind gusts reached 50 to 70 mph in Volusia and Brevard counties.

“Remain cautious of strong wind gusts and brief bursts of heavy rain in passing squalls today,” the National Weather Service in Melbourne, Fla., tweeted. “Conditions at beaches are hazardous from #Dorian. The surf remains high and rough, along with a threat of coastal flooding & beach erosion.”

Forecast for Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia

Conditions are expected to deteriorate by Wednesday morning in coastal Georgia and late Wednesday in South Carolina. In North Carolina, it may take until the second half of Thursday for tropical storm conditions to commence. Most of the storm effects in southeastern Virginia should hold off until Friday morning.

The severity of Dorian’s effects will be closely related to how closely Dorian tracks to the coast and whether it makes landfall. Most computer models now forecast the center of Dorian to come very close to the coast of South Carolina and to come ashore in North Carolina, with the highest chance over the Outer Banks.Computer models generally project that the storm center should remain far enough off the coast of Georgia to limit winds to tropical-storm force (39 to 73 mph) and rainfall totals to 3 to 6 inches. Tropical storm warnings are in effect here.

In the Carolinas, under a hurricane warning, sustained winds could reach 60 to 80 mph with higher gusts, especially along the North Carolina Outer Banks. Rainfall amounts of 5 to 10 inches are predicted, and localized totals up to 15 inches, meaning a high risk of flash flooding.

The Georgia and South Carolina coastlines are particularly vulnerable to storm surge flooding, even from a storm that does not make landfall, due to the shape of the land on and just offshore, as well as the effects of sea-level rise and land subsidence over time. The surge could reach 3 to 5 feet in Georgia and 5 to 8 feet from the Isle of Palms to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. From Cape Lookout to Duck, North Carolina, including Pamlico and Albemarle Sounds and the Neuse and Pamlico Rivers. a surge of 4 to 6 ft is anticipated.

Farther north, the possibility of a 2-to-4-foot surge exists in Hampton Roads, Va.The Weather Service forecast office in Charleston, S.C., is forecasting that storm-surge flooding may begin to occur there on Wednesday, well ahead of the storm’s center of circulation. Heavy rains of 6 to 10 inches or more could worsen the surge-related flooding by impeding drainage back out to sea.“The combination of significant storm surge inundation and heavy rainfall will enhance the risk for flash flooding, especially along coast, including Downtown Charleston, portions of the Savannah Metro Area, and the nearby coastal communities,” the Weather Service office in Charleston wrote. “This is a dangerous situation and preparations should be rushed to completion today.”

Depending on the timing of the maximum storm surge, Charleston could see this storm bring one of its top five water levels on record.

Fort Pulaski, Georgia is forecast to have coastal flooding at midday Wednesday that would be exceeded only by Hurricanes Matthew and Irma, while Charleston may see a 2nd-worst flood event, behind 1989′s Hurricane Hugo, on Wednesday night.

According to the Weather Service office in Charleston, based on the present forecast track, the result could be particularly severe. Among the possible effects, it listed: “Large areas of deep inundation with storm surge flooding accentuated by battering waves. Structural damage to buildings, with several washing away. Damage compounded by floating debris. Locations may be uninhabitable for an extended period.”

Locations farther north from Virginia Beach to the Delmarva could get clipped by the storm Friday and Saturday, with heavy rains, tropical storm force winds and coastal flooding.

A tropical storm watch is in effect from the North Carolina/Virginia border to Chincoteague, including the Virginia Beach area, as well as the Chesapeake Bay from Smith Point southward. Up to 3 to 6 inches of rain could fall.

“The risk of wind and rain impacts along portions of the Virginia coast and the southern Chesapeake Bay are increasing,” the Hurricane Center wrote. “Residents in these areas should continue to monitor the progress of Dorian.”

Natural Disaster Insurance

9/3/2019 (Permalink)

6 Types of Insurance For Natural Disasters

1. Home Insurance

The average homeowner’s insurance policy covers ordinary damage. From a busted pipe in your basement to an accidental house fire, hailstorm damage to your roof to lightning strike incidents, you should be covered by your home insurance. Keep in mind that each policy is different, and it’s important to know exactly what coverage you have with your insurance company (ideally before you have to file a claim).

2. Disaster Insurance

After you’ve checked with your insurance company and made yourself aware of the details of your homeowner’s policy, it’s time to shop around for disaster insurance. There are many unforeseen natural disasters that are not covered by typical home insurance that you need to be prepared for. Remember to call your insurance agent if you have any questions.

3. Flood Insurance

According to FEMA, floods are the most frequently occurring natural disaster in the country. Get a flood insurance policy to protect your home from damages caused by rising water, especially if you live on the coast or low-lying areas where flooding occurs more frequently. There is usually a waiting period of around a month before flood insurance coverage begins, so it’s best to sign up as soon as possible.

4. Earthquake Insurance

The last thing you want to do after an unexpected earthquake is pay to rebuild your home and restore your property. Earthquake insurance fills in the coverage gap left behind by your homeowner’s insurance policy even if you don’t live in an area prone to earthquakes. It’s smart and proactive to get an earthquake insurance quote, especially because of the unpredictable nature of this natural disaster.

5. Region-Specific Insurance

It’s important to be aware of which specific disasters could potentially affect the area you live in.

Depending on the region — and especially in high-risk areas — many states have subsidized insurance pools that provide appropriate coverage to residents. When you have questions, visit the FEMA Website for information on common natural disasters, history in certain areas, and urgent alerts.

6. Additional Coverage

There are supplemental policies and endorsements that you can purchase in addition to your regular coverage, which can be a good move if you have things like an above-ground pool, outdoor spa, or anything else home-adjacent that could be affected by a natural disaster. Some events can be covered by an extra clause in your general policy as well, but it’s best to talk to your insurance agent to see what additional coverage can be added to your existing plan.

NATIONAL DISASTER PREPAREDNESS MONTH

9/1/2019 (Permalink)

SERVPRO of NW Charlotte always has a ready plan to help you in the even disaster strikes!

IT IS NATIONAL PREPAREDNESS MONTH

Prepared, Not Scared. Be Ready for Disasters.
With hurricane season looming, our staff at SERVPRO of NW Charlotte wants to make sure you are prepared in the event of a disaster. Every September is used to encourage families and communities to prepare in the event a disaster strikes your home.  

TAKE STEPS TO PREPARE

Don't Wait. Communicate.
Sit down with your family and put together a plan of what to do if a disaster effects your home and an escape plan to ensure their protection. Even though we are not able to prevent natural disasters, we are able to take precautions to keep ourselves and loved ones safe.

AFTER DISASTER

Be Informed.
Make sure you are informed of your disaster risk so you can plan for a safe place to stay in the event a disaster hits. In the event that your home is out of commission, SERVPRO of NW Charlotte is available 24/7 to work with you and your insurance in order to have your home returned back to living condition.

Hurricane Dorian: As Dangerous as a Category 4

8/30/2019 (Permalink)

Hurricane Dorian cone of uncertainty as of 11 a.m. Friday, Aug. 30, 2019.

Hurricane Dorian strengthened overnight and is expected to slam into Florida as a dangerous Category 4 hurricane with 140 mph winds. The projected path has it making landfall in South Florida, but then driving right up through Central Florida and over downtown Orlando.

The expected arrival of the storm is now on the tail end of Labor Day weekend as its forward speed has slowed, but Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said this morning that is good and bad news.

“Floridians need to be prepared,” DeSantis said. “The bad news of the storm going slower is that that could potentially have some negative impacts once it reaches landfall, but you do have time before it reaches to prepare if you have not done so.”

DeSantis said local officials will decide Friday about whether to order voluntary or mandatory evacuations. So far, 2,000 Florida National Guard members have been activated to help prepare for the storm, with 4,000 expected to be activated by Saturday.

  

At 11 a.m. Friday, Hurricane Dorian had maximum sustained winds of 110 mph and was located about 480 miles east of the northwestern Bahamas and 660 miles east of West Palm Beach. It was moving to the northwest at 10 mph, slowing down in forward speed even more today, which pushed its Florida landfall even farther into next week. Hurricane-force winds extend outward up to 25 miles from the storm’s center, and tropical-storm-force winds extend outward up to 105 miles.

“Dorian will remain an extremely dangerous, major hurricane as it moves through the Northwestern Bahamas and approaches Florida early next week,” said WOFL-Fox 35 meteorologist Kristin Giannas. “The latest track shows that Dorian will slow down considerably before and after landfall near West Palm Beach. It’s increasingly likely that the threat for life-threatening storm surge, high winds and heavy rain will last more than a couple days.”

 

The current path has the storm making landfall north of West Palm Beach Tuesday morning as a dangerously strong Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 140 mph and gusts up to 160 mph. The storm would then move inland and slowly make its way toward Central Florida -- now projected to move right over downtown Orlando by Wednesday morning as a Category 1 storm with winds of 75 mph and gusts up to 90 mph.

"Dorian is growing stronger, now a Category 2 storm but, will intensify later today into a Category 3 with winds over 115 mph,” said WOFL-Fox 35 meteorologist Jayme King. "Central Floridians need to take this storm seriously and prepare for threats coming our way.”

At 140 mph, it would be the strongest storm to hit Florida’s east coast since Hurricane Andrew tore through South Florida in August 1992, which caused more than $25 billion in damages and was blamed for 44 deaths.

Because of the Hurricane Dorian’s slow motion, there will be greater impact from wind and rain for South and Central Florida.

 

“One of the biggest concerns with a slow moving hurricane like Dorian is that the dangerous weather will last a few days - that’s strong winds, heavy rainfall and storm surge," said Fox 35 meteorologist Kristin Giannas.

Added King, “Dorian looks to produce a lot of rain for Central Florida, possibly around 2 feet in some locations."

President Donald Trump warned it could be an “absolute monster.”

“All indications are it’s going to hit very hard and it’s going to be very big,” Trump said in a video he tweeted Thursday evening, comparing Dorian to Hurricane Andrew, which devastated South Florida in 1992.

Because the storm is still days away, the National Hurricane Center cautioned that its path might change.

“Dorian will likely slow down considerably as it approaches the Florida peninsula,” forecasters said. “There is more spread among the deterministic models and their ensemble members during that time, with disagreement on exactly when and where Dorian will turn northwestward and northward on days 4 and 5.”

Gov. DeSantis declared a state of emergency, clearing the way to bring in more fuel and call out the National Guard if necessary.

On Friday, Seminole County schools announced they would be closed Tuesday. UCF had already canceled Friday afternoon classes as well as classes on Tuesday, as has Rollins College.

Central Floridians have already been making preparations, flooding local stores in search of bottled water, generators and other supplies that were already in high demand.

Home Depot has sent more than 160 truckloads of products to stores in Florida so far, company spokesperson Christina Cornell said.

Hurricane Dorian Preparedness: Tips to get you ready before the storm

While flavored waters and sports drinks remained available Thursday at the Walmart Supercenter at John Young Parkway and Princeton Street in Orlando, shelves of water were emptied out. Some shelves of canned goods had also thinned.

“We got batteries,” said 31-year-old Christopher Hudon, an Orlando attorney. “Water has been cleaned like crows from the shelves. There’s literally no water. There’s only flavored water left.”

The state has ordered an additional 200,000 gallons of water to bring the total to more than 1 million gallons. It pre-deployed 860,000 bottles of water to preparing counties.

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has activated the state’s price gouging hotline, giving residents a way to report businesses violating the law by charging too much for lodging and goods during Hurricane Dorian. Moody said gouging could be reported by (866) 966-7226 or online at myfloridalegal.com

The threat of winds in Orlando has prompted companies Lime and HOPR to begin removing their fleets of bicycles that are strewn across the city.

The path of the storm has coastal concerns making moves including Port Canaveral on alert and cruise lines shifting ships and changing itineraries. Also, major airlines began allowing travelers to change their reservations without a fee.

Coastal areas in the Southeast could get 6 to 12 inches of rain, with 15 inches in some places, triggering life-threatening flash floods, the hurricane center said.

Also imperiled were the Bahamas, with Dorian's expected track running just to the north of Great Abaco and Grand Bahama islands.

Jeff Byard, an associate administrator at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, warned that Dorian is likely to "create a lot of havoc with infrastructure, power and roads," but gave assurances FEMA is prepared to handle it, even though the Trump administration is shifting hundreds of millions of dollars from FEMA and other agencies to deal with immigration at the Mexican border.

“This is going to be a big storm. We’re prepared for a big response,” Byard said.

The hurricane season typically peaks between mid-August and late October. One of the most powerful storms ever to hit the U.S. was on Labor Day 1935. The unnamed Category 5 hurricane crashed ashore along Florida’s Gulf Coast on Sept. 2. It was blamed for over 400 deaths.

 

Also of note, the Hurricane Center began tracking a tropical wave off the coast of Africa that as of 8 a.m. has a 30 percent chance of tropical system formation in the next five days. If it forms, it will be the seventh tropical depression of the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season. If it grows into a named storm, it would become Tropical Storm Fernand.

How to Prepare Your Home for an Emergency

8/13/2019 (Permalink)

When disaster strikes, the last thing you want to think about is where the spare batteries are or whether your perishables have passed their expiration date. Make sure you're ready for any situation — and how to handle the aftermath — with these top tips.

1. Pack a "Go Bag"

If you have to leave your home in a hurry, you'll want to have some essentials packed and ready to go. Keep the following supplies, recommended by FEMA, in a portable container in the area of your house where you'll take shelter:

  • Three days' worth of food and water (at least a gallon per family member)
  • Battery powered (or hand crank) flashlights and radio
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Trash bags and duct tape, along with a dust mask
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Manual can opener for food
  • Regional maps
  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter, or solar charger
  • Moist towelettes and any personal sanitation or specific family needs, like pet supplies

(For additional recommendations, be sure to check out ready.gov)

We also suggest having smaller versions of your kit stocked with a few necessities like walking shoes, snacks, and a flashlight at work. In general, you'll also need enough cash on hand for five days of basic needs (gas and food), but any amount of ready money will help if ATMs are down.

Once you have your supplies together, it pays to go through them at least once a year too, to weed out expired food and batteries.

2. Make an Action Plan

When things get chaotic, you want to make sure that every family member knows what to do. We suggest designating two meeting places (one close by and one a little further away in your neighborhood) and hang a map with the spots marked near your emergency kit.

It also pays to have important contacts written down if the power goes out and there's nowhere to charge your cell phone. Make a mini contact list — ready.gov has templates you can print out — with important numbers that everyone can stow in their wallets. Leave a copy in your emergency kit, too. Establish a plan for checking in with relatives in case local lines get jammed. Text messages will often go through, even when phone lines are clogged.

3. Prep Your Home

If the power goes out and you have time, unplug appliances and electronics and turn off air conditioners, whether you stay or go. This will prevent damage when the electricity surges back on. Leave one lamp on so you'll know when the power's back.

How you store food can also make a difference when it comes to salvaging items afterwards, according to the FSIS. If there's a chance of flooding, be sure to store dry goods in waterproof containers high enough that they will be safely out of the way of contaminated water.

Grouping food together in the freezer can help it stay colder longer in the case of a power outage. If you have advanced warning, freeze any items you don't need right away, like leftovers, milk, and fresh meat and poultry to keep them at a safe temperature longer and stock your freezer with as much ice as you can fit. Coolers stocked with ice can also be helpful if the power is out for more than four hours.

Though you'll want to minimize the amount you open and close your refrigerator door once the power goes out, FSIS recommends keeping an appliance thermometer in your fridge and freezer to help you determine if food is safe to eat. The refrigerator temperature should be lower than 40 degrees Fahrenheit and the freezer temperature should be below zero degrees Fahrenheit.

After the Emergency

Coming home after a major disaster can be daunting. Call SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte to help you in the event your home is affected.

Commercial Storm Damage

7/12/2019 (Permalink)

THE IMPORTANCE OF COMMERCIAL STORM DAMAGE REPAIR

  • When a major weather event rolls through and you have the dismaying experience of discovering that it has damaged your commercial building, you need an immediate solution. 
  • We move quickly. The longer damage goes unresolved, the worse it gets. We understand that you need your property repaired as quickly as possible, and that is why we put an emphasis on availability and promptness. We want to save you money!
  • We help you navigate insurance. Speaking of saving money, insurance can be a significant help when you face damages from natural disasters. However, navigating it can be difficult. Let us help you navigate insurance so you can get on with your life as quickly as possible.

How to Check for Storm Damage

5/9/2019 (Permalink)

What Does Commercial Flood Insurance Cover?

Commercial Flood Insurance helps protect your business from the damage costs that come from floodwater. A commercial flood insurance policy will not only protect the location of your business but also the physical contents and assets. A commercial flood insurance policy is designed to protect your business if your floors, walls, ceilings, equipment and fixtures as well as furniture, inventory and business property sustain floodwater damage. Call today to get a quote and find out how easy and affordable it is to add flood insurance protection to your portfolio of business coverage's. 

Do I Need Commercial Flood Insurance?

If your business property insurance doesn’t cover flood damage – and most don’t – you should consider adding a commercial flood insurance policy. Start with a commercial flood insurance quote. Even if you live in an area that doesn’t flood, you’ll need a policy if: 
  • You run your business in an area that has cold, snowy winters and warm springs. Fast melting snow is one of the top causes for commercial flooding.
  • You experience moderate rainfall during the year. Even with moderate rainfall, a drain could become clogged and eventually overflow into your place of business and cause flood damage.

How Does a Commercial Flood Insurance Policy Work?

Flood insurance from The Hartford is provided through the National Flood Insurance Prodgram managed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Typically, the government requires a 30-day waiting period on new flood insurance policies. So it’s important to buy a commercial flood policy well before a potential flood event is headed your way.

Tree Maintenance

5/9/2019 (Permalink)

Preventative Tips

Throughout the year there are steps you can take to prevent (or at least reduce the amount of) damage to your roof, home, deck/patio and yard when the weather brings heavy rain and wind. Homeowners can take care of most tree maintenance, but when dealing with tree removal, dead or diseased trees or insects/pests, it's best to call in the professionals for help. Depending on your situation, you may need to contact a certified arborist who can thoroughly assess the condition of the trees on your property, or a tree removal service that can perform a thorough assessment of any storm damage and cut down and remove any trees that are a potential hazard.

TRIMMING AND PRUNING

Any branches close to your house should be trimmed back on a regular basis. This will help protect against potential roof damage from fallen limbs if severe weather hits your area. Heavy rain, hail and powerful winds can easily snap and break weak branches off, which could result in major storm cleanup efforts if they fall. Pruning to remove dead limbs can be done any time of year, but is typically recommended during the winter and spring months.

TREE REMOVAL

Tree removal is a necessary part of tree maintenance, especially if there is a tree posing a risk to your home that could fall during a storm and cause damage. If you suspect you have a dead tree, you should hire a tree removal service for an assessment and they will recommend next steps. If you have a diseased tree, it may be beyond trying to save. A certified arborist can assess the tree and recommend whether or not it can be rehabilitated.  

WATER AND SOIL

Every tree species has specific needs, so make sure you know what type of trees are in your yard in order to care for them appropriately. Some trees are drought-tolerant and can go for long periods of time without water. However, for trees that do need water more consistently—and if they aren't receiving enough rain—they should be watered until the soil is moist. Newly planted trees will need more water and attention, especially during the first two years, to help foster root establishment. To help trees retain enough water, cover the soil with wood mulch.

There are six main types of soil—sand, silt, peat, loam, chalky and clay—and each requires different types of care, as soil and root management are essential to good tree health. If soil composition is too compact, it will prevent trees from growing and should be aerated. Soil should also maintain the right level of moisture and nutrients in order to keep trees healthy, otherwise trees could develop disease, become weak or die, making them a potential hazard to your home during a storm.

Commercial Storm Preparation

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  1. Check your insurance coverage. Make sure that your business or commercial property is protected against the most common types of storm damage in your region, including flood water. This may involve taking additional riders or endorsements on top of a standard business insurance policy.
  2. Check stores of emergency supplies. A commercial property should have a store of sandbags and polyethylene sheeting, hand tools, and possibly a generator and fuel supplies in the event of a storm.
  3. Have a data protection plan in place. Insurers can replace equipment that sustains storm damage, but it is much more difficult to restore corrupted or lost data. Businesses should have data backup plans in place well before a storm and follow protocols to prevent information loss.
  4. Come up with plans for evacuation and property safety. You should have a plan to limit damage as a storm is approaching. Lift and disconnect appliances, fixtures, and wiring. Shut off the flow of electricity to non-necessary appliances. You should also have a detailed evacuation plan for all occupants and visitors in the building posted in visible areas throughout the structure.

Who to Call When Trees Fall on Your Home

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Whether it was caused by root rot or strong winds, if a tree has fallen on your house, there’s a series of steps you’ll need to follow to get your house and property back to normal. Hurricanes, floods and snowstorms are a few types of weather conditions that can cause trees to fall, which could result in roof and interior damage. While older and diseased trees are more vulnerable to extreme weather and high winds, remember that even strong, healthy trees can topple under these conditions. Fallen trees are one of the main causes of roof damage, according to the National Storm Damage Center, costing more than $1 billion in property damage each year. From tree removal to roof repair and everything in between, learn what you need to do and who you need to contact to recover from storm damage.

1. Contact SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte immediately. They will send a project manager out on site quickly. Once on site they will determine what equipment is needed to get the tree off of your home. 

2. If there is a lot of rain the inside of the home might be damaged. SERVPRO can handle all of the cleanup and drying to get your home back to pre loss condition. 

3. If there is rebuilding necessary in results of the tree damage, SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte's construction team will be able to handle the job from start to finish. 

Cleaning Up Your Business After Storm Damage

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Living in North Carolina there are many cases where storms cause significant damage to your business or the building you operate your business out of. If that is the case SERVPRO of northwest Charlotte is here to help. We want to make sure that you have help from start to finish getting your business back up and operational again. 

In most cases high winds will cause significant wind damage. This can cause shingles to come off, trees flying into windows and other types of high impact damage. SERVPRO of Northwest Charlotte has a team in place that can handle all of the situations 24/7, 365 days a year. 

It is important if you have any questions to reach out to us at anytime. We hope you don't experience a severe storm, but if you do know that we are here for you. 

Why Sewers Backup

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1. Roots can penetrate and clog the sewer line. Trees and shrubs can send out thousands of feet of tendrils a year in search of water. A small crack in a pipe can be an open invitation to the plant to spread the crack and enjoy the water. As the roots enter the pipe, they often spread quickly until the roots have created a mass that can easily block the pipe and cause a sewer backup.

2. Clogs can form in drain pipes or lateral sewer lines. A sink, tub, or toilet can easily clog over time as the sewer pipes corrode or fill with sludge. This is especially true if pipes are used to discard household debris from garbage disposals and toilet flushes. Hair buildup can also easily clog drain pipes.

3. Heavy rains can cause city-wide sewer malfunctions. As rain water or melting snow enter over-taxed sewer lines, there can be nowhere for the water to go. The liquid can fill streets and drainage lines until finally, a cesspit backup is often the result. As the water levels rise, so can the sewage levels.

4. Sewer lines can break or collapse. The lateral line between the building and the street were often historically built from clay or cast-iron pipes. The fragile pipes can sometimes collapse as they crack with age and can often cause in sewer problems. 

When a sewer backup occurs, it can fill the building with black water, fecal matter, and bacteria. It can also lead to the destruction of possessions and damage to the building structure. Contact a water damage repair team at the first sign of sewer problems. The professionals can take immediate action and protect the property from further water damage.