July 27 2014

Home Fire Emergency: Plan Ahead!

The home fire! Something nobody hopes to ever have but, for a fact, comes as a total surprise to everybody who does have one. If you think people just like you don’t have home fire emergencies… just turn your TV on. They’re never welcome but they can be, somewhat, planned for.
Here are some tips on how to plan for the possibility that you ever have a home fire emergency in your home:
First of all…. let’s hope you have homeowners insurance. It’s not expensive and you can even get it to cover apartment living. Most companies’ rates are relatively the same and all the big, well-known companies offer it. If you’re just now moving into a home and need homeowners fire protection for the first time in your life, you can probably get a discount from the same company you’ve got your auto insurance, or perhaps some business insurance, with.
Next… don’t do anything stupid around your house. Sure, that sounds obvious but really, you’ve got a big asset and a lot of money tied up in your home now. You’re not living in the college dorm anymore.
So take the time to learn something about what really constitutes a ‘fire hazard’. Sometimes things constitute a fire hazard that you didn’t even realize. If you discover something like that around your home… you’ll be glad you were forewarned in time to do something about it.
Next… you should make it a point to take an inventory of everything of value you’ve got around the home. The best way to do that is on one of the many ‘home inventory’ software programs that are out there. Many decent ones are even free or, for that matter, just use an Excel spreadsheet.
The point is, if and when you have to make a claim, the process will go a lot easier if you can document what you lost.
Next… be sure there’s nothing in the condition of your home that might make it more susceptible to a fire. This could include excess junk piled up somewhere, old wiring, old appliance, furnaces….. anything like that. Old stuff breaks and sometimes it ‘goes down in flames’ so minimize your odds of anything breaking and starting a fire.
Next… let’s hope that if a fire does start that it’s something you can catch early enough to put out yourself. You can buy fire extinguishers of various sizes and at the least you should have one in your kitchen. If you have a garage, you should have one there too…. especially if you do a hobby work or auto repair there.
Next… it never hurts to have some common medical supplies around the house. It’s entirely possible that you might have a small fire and hurt yourself putting it out and need to self-administer some simple first-aid. If you can… why not?
Next… be sure you have the number of the fire department programmed into all your phones…. i.e. your home phones and your personal smart-phone. In most cases you’ll just be calling 911 but if there is a special number… you should have it.
That’s about all you can do. Just think it through and be prepared. Don’t wish for a home fire emergency but do PLAN AHEAD.

July 09 2014

What To Do In An Emergency Flood Recovery Situation

You get home late at night after a movie with the wife and kids, you open the door and immediately something doesn’t seem right. You pause, listen and then you hear it…. a fizzing, sprinkling, gurgling kind of sound. You walk over to the basement door, open it and there it is… your own little ‘inland sea’. Your pipes have burst and you’re faced with a flood recovery emergency situation.
This is nothing you ever studied in school. What do you do?
The good news is that you’re not the first person this has ever happened to. Each year across the country lots of people have problems with flooding in their homes. Sometimes it’s due to weather or other natural conditions and at other times it’s due to some malfunction in your home plumbing or perhaps even something of faulty design.
Regardless of the cause, the recommended course of action (from the pros) is pretty much the same and here’s what you should do:
The first thing you should do is pay attention to what’s going on and what just happened. You’re going to have to fill out some claim forms (assuming you have insurance to cover this kind of damage) and the more information you can give the insurance company the easier it’ll be for them to justify paying the claim.
Next, call your insurance professional. Don’t worry about waking them up. If the company has a 24/7/365 toll-free ‘hot line’ so much the better. You should call it first and then call your agent to let him know what happened. Don’t worry about waking him or her up because this is an opportunity for him/her to give the ‘good neighbor’ service they’ve been bragging about.
It’s not unusual for your insurance agent to have a certain amount of discretionary authority to write checks to cover such things as perhaps a night in the motel for you and your family. It depends on your policy provisions of course.
Next (and quickly) make sure all your utilities are turned off. Electricity can be dangerous when there’s water around. And go ahead and turn off the water… and the gas too if you have it.
If the water in your basement came from a local river, creek or stream, listen for public service announcements to see if the water is healthy or not. It might not be.
Odds are that you’ll want to retain the services of a professional emergency flood water removal services company to handle the cleanup. If your insurance agent recommends one, it’s probably a safe bet that they’re OK to use plus you’ll have the assurance that they’re familiar with dealing with your insurance company.
If your agent or insurance company can’t or won’t recommend anyone, you’d be wise to have a company already checked out. Have their number handy where you can call them in a hurry. Don’t worry about the hour of the night or day because that’s just part of their business model.
Be careful about coming in contact with that flood water yourself because it’s probably got a lot of bacteria and germs in it. If you do, be sure to wash your hands very thoroughly.
If, for whatever reason, you decide to drain the water yourself, don’t do it all in one day. That’s a dangerous thing to do because it creates a pressure differential between the area outside the walls vs. inside of the basement. It could cause the walls and/or foundation to crack.
Also be sure you dress appropriately for working around possibly contaminated water. And also don’t forget the probability that all the little crawly-critters who’ve been enjoy the domestic tranquillity of your dark, dry, secluded basement will be rather agitated now. Some of them might want to take their anger out on you… i.e. they can bite. So…. dress appropriately.
Any way you slice it, having an emergency flood recovery situation to deal with is no ‘walk in the park’ but with proper planning you can get your life back in good working order with minimal effort. Just be prepared.