Brian on December 21st, 2012

4 ways to be a lifeline to friends and family caught in a weather event

When a weather event strikes close to home, it can be hard to know how to help friends and family members in need. But there are numerous ways you can relieve their stress, just with your everyday household items. Here are four lifelines you can extend to friends and family during and after a weather event.

1.       Electronics chargers

During a flood or power outage, your friends may not have the means to charge their phones and computers. Their first priority after a storm, however, will be to keep in touch with family members and stay up-to-date on public safety announcements.

 

TIP: Turn your home into a charging station. Invite your friends and neighbors over for tea and offer up your power strips and chargers. If you want to be extra-prepared, pick up a universal charger. Many electronics stores sell them for laptops and cell phones, and it’ll ensure that you will be able to charge a variety of standard devices.

 

2.       A radio (and extra batteries)

 

When your friend’s home has been hit by a tornado, they may be left feeling stranded. 2011’s devastating Joplin, MO tornado knocked out phone lines and electricity across the city. Residents relied on the local radio station to stay informed and communicate with one another.

 

TIP: Offer your friend a battery-powered radio (and extra batteries) to help them keep abreast of the latest weather information so they can stay safe during and after a weather event. 

 

3.       A first aid kit

 

Did your neighbor suffer a minor cut in a windstorm? Did they get some serious blisters in a wildfire evacuation? In a weather event, victims may not even notice the small injuries they accumulate—but in the often-harsh conditions following, those injuries could worsen. Lend out a first aid kit to those affected by a storm; it could mean the difference between a small treatable injury and a hospital visit a few weeks down the road.

 

TIP: Include bandages, sanitizers or cleansing towels, antibiotic ointment, sterile dressings, scissors, disposable gloves and pain relievers in your kit.

 

4.       A list of important phone numbers

 

During a weather event—especially one that may knock out electricity, like a hurricane—it can be tough to get in touch with local authorities, particularly if you don’t already have a list of their numbers on hand. Type out a list of important local numbers and give it to friends and neighbors during or after a weather event. During an emergency, your list will be a lifeline that connects them to someone who can help.

 

TIP: Important numbers on your list could include your local fire and police departments, the electric company, the gas company, the nearest hospital, the local radio station and designated shelters for weather events.

 

At Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth counties, your family’s safety is our No. 1 priority, and we’re here to be your lifeline after kind any kind of weather event.

 

 

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Brian on December 19th, 2012

Have my storm prep supplies expired?

You’ve put together your emergency supplies for your family, but (thankfully) it’s been sitting in the closet for a while. Instead of wondering whether that 5-month-old bag of dried cranberries is safe to eat or not, check out this list of storm preparation supplies that lets you know what to keep and what to toss.
Canned food
Keep it — that is, if you restocked your stash this year.Most canned foods have shelf lives of about two years after the processing date. If the expiration date is within the next year, move the food to your family’s regular pantry and eat up! If you overstocked and have enough canned food to last you for decades, consider donating the excess to a local food bank.
Bottled water
Keep it! The FDA considers unopened bottled water to have an indefinite shelf life. Although most bottled waters have expiration dates, those dates usually reflect taste and/or odor preferences. If your water has “expired” and smells or tastes odd to you, use the water to hydrate your plants (not you!).
Batteries
If the expiration date is still a year away, you can keep them in your kit for next year. If not, re-purpose them! Use the batteries from your storm prep supply for any battery-operated toys or gadgets you’re gifting to the kids for the holidays, and purchase a fresh pack for your prep kit.
Extra medications
Unsure if you should toss expensive prescription meds? Here’s a quick guideline: If they’ve expired or look discolored, have a strong scent, or have turned powdery, it’s best to dispose of them and order more. To safely get rid of unused medicine, follow the directions on the label or take it to a local drug take-back center for proper disposal.
Clothing
If the emergency clothes in your supply kit are still usable, leave them in for next year, or swap them out for others if you’d like to bring them back into regular rotation. If they no longer fit, donate them to a local charity. Be sure to update your children’s clothes often so your young ones aren’t wearing pants that are three sizes too small in an emergency!
Your home inventory list
If you haven’t looked at your home inventory list in a few years, take it out of your kit and get to work. Add items you’ve purchased since you last updated it, including major appliances and electronics. Snap photos of each new item for extra protection during the insurance claim filing process.

At Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of (location), we know that storm season aftermath can be confusing, and we’re here to help. We service the following communities: (cities serviced).

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Brian on December 19th, 2012

7 Ways To Use Space Heaters Safely

 

Feel that? It’s the chill of fall hitting homeowners across the country—brrr! If your home has inconsistent or poor heating, purchasing a space heater isn’t a bad idea. Before your family members (including the four-legged furry ones!) come flocking to your cozy new friend, make sure you’ve read our seven tips for safe space heater use.

 

  1. 1.      Pick the right heater for your home. Space heaters come sized for different spaces; make sure to choose the correct heater based on the dimensions of your room.

TIP: If your space heater is too small for the room, it’s more likely to overheat as a result. If it’s too large, it’ll consume more energy (a big hit to your wallet!).

  1. 2.      Quality matters! Older space heaters may not meet current safety regulations, so it’s worth it to purchase a new one now instead of digging out the one your grandmother bought back in 1975.

TIP: Make sure your heater has the latest safety features and is lab-tested and certified. Some newer models have automatic shutoff features should the unit overheat or upend, preventing space heater damage. Others will shut off if they detect an object is too close (great for households with pets or children).

  1. 3.      Clear the area. There should be at least three feet of open space on every side of your space heater.

TIP: Make sure you place the unit far from any curtains, bedding, furniture or other flammable materials. Keep the room tidy as well—you don’t want any stray newspapers or old report cards coming into contact with the heater!

  1. 4.      Position it correctly. You should place your heater on a flat, level surface that isn’t flammable.

TIP: Experts recommend a ceramic tile floor. This will keep your heater upright.

  1. 5.      Plug it in safely. Never plug your space heater into a power strip or extension cord—this could overload the circuit and start a fire.

TIP: Plug it directly into the wall and avoid using other high-wattage appliances simultaneously!

  1. 6.      Don’t leave it unattended. The number one key to space heater safety is TURNING IT OFF when you leave the room.

TIP: Always turn off a space heater when you leave the room for any reason and when you go to bed at night. To be extra safe, unplug it—that way there’s no risk of a fire starting.

  1. 7.      Keep your home’s safety measures up-to-date! There should be a working smoke alarm in every room you plan to use a space heater. Test the batteries once per month and replace them biannually or as necessary!

TIP: If you opt for a gas space heater, install a carbon monoxide alarm as a smart precautionary measure.

 

At Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth Counties

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Brian on December 18th, 2012

The five most destructive storms of 2012

 

2012 was a year for the books; from a superstorm to a super-hot summer, we’ve seen record after record shattered by Mother Nature. Take a look at the following clips to see some of the year’s most destructive storms and their aftermath—and our tips to help you weather these types of events safely next year!

 

1. Hurricane Sandy

On October 29, Hurricane Sandy came ashore near Atlantic City, N.J. The storm devastated the eastern seaboard and caused an estimated $63 billion in damages, making it the second-costliest Atlantic hurricane in history (second only to Hurricane Katrina). For a sobering look at the storm’s magnitude, take a look at this ABC News video of the wreckage from one of Sandy’s hardest-hit coastal towns, Seaside Heights, N.J.

 

Play it safe in 2013: Due to the extended electricity losses and flooding during Sandy, hypothermia became a health risk during and after the weather event. If a storm leaves you without electricity, make sure you layer plenty of warm clothes, move around and wear a hat to help keep warm. Always listen closely for and follow evacuation protocols to avoid being stranded.

 

2. The November Nor’easter

Ten days after Hurricane Sandy hit the U.S., a powerful nor’easter swept through the Northeast, dumping inches of snow and rain on already-battered communities. The nor’easter produced 8-foot waves along the coast and set snowfall records in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. Watch this ABC News video for a glimpse of the Nor’easter experience.

 

Play it safe in 2013: If you have a generator you’re planning to use the next time a weather event knocks out the electricity, make sure to install a carbon monoxide detector. This little hero of a device might have saved several lives during November’s storm.

 

3. June Derecho

A derecho is a set of severe thunderstorm complexes, and in late June, one of the most destructive derechos in North American history hit the Midwest from Indiana to Virginia. The derecho resulted in one tornado, winds in excess of 90 mph and hail up to 2.75 inches large; more than 3.7 million customers lost power. All told, the damage was estimated at hundreds of millions of dollars. Watch this video by toobmonstah to see the storm raging in Maryland, including two transformer explosions.

 

Play it safe in 2013: The majority of the derecho’s fatalities were the result of falling trees. If 2013 brings thunderstorms your way, retreat indoors immediately. If possible, take shelter in a basement or away from windows to best protect yourself.

 

4. Colorado Wildfires

After an unusually dry winter, a set of wildfires burned throughout Colorado during heat wave-riddled June and July, destroying more than 600 homes and 200,000 acres in the process. 34,500 residents were evacuated as a result of the fires. One fire, the Waldo Canyon Fire, was the most destructive wildfire in Colorado history—it destroyed 350 homes and almost 20,000 acres alone. In this video captured by LuvinMusicMan, you can see the Waldo Canyon Fire progressing.

 

Play it safe in 2013: When wildfire season rolls around, make sure to heed any public service announcements and leave your home immediately when ordered by authorities. As demonstrated by the Colorado wildfires of 2012, high winds can shift a fire’s course much quicker than you’d expect!

 

5. March Tornado Outbreak

On March 2nd and 3rd, a tornado outbreak hit the Ohio River Valley, resulting in 70 confirmed tornados during that two-day period. The tornados caused an estimated $1.5 billion in damage. The March tornado outbreak is the second-deadliest early-March outbreak on record, behind only the 1966 Candlestick Park tornado. Watch as the strongest tornado of the outbreak hits Henryville, Ind. in this CNN video.

 

Play it safe in 2013: Many of the March tornados were large enough to lift and toss vehicles—some more than 100 yards away. If you’re driving and a tornado touches down nearby, immediately pull over and find shelter in the nearest sturdy building. Your car is not a safe place to ride out the storm!

 

 

At Paul Davis, our first priority is to help keep you and your family safe in every kind of weather event. 

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Brian on October 10th, 2012

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Brian on October 5th, 2012

Four questions every family should ask during Fire Prevention Week!

One of our Paul Davis restoration professionals instructs his family to say a silent prayer every time they pull over for a speeding fire truck. If everyone in North America did that, there sadly would be a lot of roadside praying – a home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010. We don’t want you to become one of those statistics. To commemorate Fire Prevention Week, we suggest you ask the following questions to spur you to prepare, ease your peace of mind, and protect your family!
1. Will my family be able to get out safely if there’s a fire in our home?
Why it’s important: In 2010, there were an estimated 369,500 home structure fires in the U.S., resulting in 2,640 deaths.
What you should know: Once your fire alarm sounds, you may have as little as two minutes to safely evacuate. Yet only 23 percent of households have (and have practiced!) a fire escape route.
Peace of mind tip: Read the National Fire Protection Association’s “Escape Planning” handout and update your family’s own fire escape routes. Make sure you have two ways out of your home in an emergency and practice evacuations!

2. How will my elderly parents or grandparents fare in an emergency?
Why it’s important: Compared to the general population, adults 65 or older—who make up 12 percent of the U.S. and Canada—are twice as likely to be injured or killed by fires.
What you should know: Falls are the leading cause of accidental death in this age group; each year, 30 percent of adults over the age of 65 are involved in at least one fall. A fall can be deadly when there are only two minutes to safely evacuate in a fire.
Peace of mind tip:  Check out the NFPA’s tips on teaching at-risk community members about fire safety and escape plans.  Consider hosting a fire safety open house for older adults, or printing out handouts in different languages to pass out to members of your community.
3.  Are our smoke alarms functioning properly?
Why it’s important: Roughly 62 percent of home fire deaths occurred in homes with no working smoke alarms (or no smoke alarms at all).
What you should know: Working smoke alarms cut your risk of dying in a home fire almost in half. Replace your smoke detector batteries twice per year and test them monthly to keep them working properly.

 

Peace of mind tip: Read through the NFPA’s community tool kits on topics like “Keeping Your Community Safe with Home Fire Escape Planning” and “Keeping Your Community Safe and Warm.” They’ll help up your fire prevention knowledge immensely.

4. Do my kids understand the dangers of fire?
Why it’s important: The fire department responded to an estimated 44,900 fires that were started by someone playing with fire in 2010. In almost every case, that “someone” was a child.
What you need to know: Preschoolers and kindergarteners are the most common age group starting these fires, and the most likely to die from them.
Peace of mind tip: Read through Sparky’s Wish List, an online registry of fire safety education materials that America’s fire departments desperately need. You can purchase the requested materials and have them shipped directly to the fire department in your own community to supplement fire education programs in schools.

 

At Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth counties, we know how frightening the possibility of a house fire is, and we want to help ease your fears and keep you safe. We thank the National Fire Protection Association for the wonderful fire safety and prevention resources they provide.

 

Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth counties

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Brian on September 27th, 2012

How to Restore Your iPhone After Water Damage

PLOP!!

Yep. That’s the sound of the unthinkable happening. Your beloved iPhone, the one you caressed like a baby the first week you had it, has hit the water. If you are reading this article — sigh — you know exactly what we’re talking about. Before you relegate Siri to the junk drawer with your circa 2003 flip phone, try our five tips below to restore your iPhone to its former glory.
Siri’s Prognosis: Still Breathing!
If the stars have aligned and somehow your smartphone only got partially wet, there’s still hope. Turn off your phone (if the water didn’t already zap it off) and try Operation: Traditional Method.
Remove the SIM card, which is on the right side of newer models. Dry the card and your phone gently with a hand towel, then shake the phone to force out any trapped water. Grab your trusty blow-dryer and on the lowest, coolest setting, blow air into the dock-adaptor hole at the bottom of the phone from 6-8 inches away.

Dry for about 10 minutes, then set your phone aside for 72 hours—really! No touching! After the three longest days of your life have passed, you can insert your SIM card and turn on your phone again.
Siri’s Prognosis: Not Breathing
Worried your phone is still soggy after Operation: Traditional Method? It’s time to do some mouth-to-mouth. Spray compressed air into the headphone hole on top and the dock-adaptor hole on the bottom or side of your phone.

This will dry out any remaining droplets, letting you turn on your phone safely.
Siri’s Prognosis: It’s Not Looking Good
Your phone isn’t responding to the above two methods. First, stop crying. Then, turn off your phone (see a pattern here?) and, after drying it, drop it in a bowl of uncooked white rice for 72 hours. The rice acts as a sponge, sucking all the moisture out of your phone and hopefully restoring it to working order!

Siri’s Prognosis: The worst. Just the worst.
Not only did you have to fish your phone out of toilet water (this is not what you had planned for your day!), you tried all the other methods to no avail. Okay. Well. You might need to take it to a tech master to get their advice. Unfortunately, many phone manufacturers don’t cover water damage in any of their warranties, so you’re better off avoiding the Verizon, AT&T or Apple stores completely.

And don’t bother trying to play dumb about the water damage with the Genius Bar geniuses—your phone has internal sensors that change color when they’re exposed to water. Busted! Instead, take your phone to a local electronics restoration specialist and see if they can work their magic on your lifeline. Or, guess what — the iPhone 5 was just released!

At Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth Counties, we know a little something about helping people deal with worst-case scenario events. Although we may not be able to revive your smartphone, you can count on us to restore the contents of your home after a water, fire or mold disaster! We service the following communities: Ocean and Monmouth counties.

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Brian on September 17th, 2012

3 Areas Often Overlooked When Preparing a Home for Flooding from Heavy Rain

 

Imagine this: Heavy rains brought severe flooding in your neighborhood during the night, leaving the basement of your home a soggy mess by morning. What’s worse, the water shorted out your washer and dryer and you’re not sure if your insurance will cover the damage. Ugh—talk about a massive cleanup job! But how do you avoid a situation like this?

 

At Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth counties, we know floods are frightening and damaging disasters for homeowners, and it’s not always easy to remember everything when preparing for such an event. We are here to help by providing information that you can use to be ready before the water starts rising. Below are three things not to forget when preparing your home for flooding.

 

1. Minimize the damage to large appliances

Before the heavy rains arrive or the snow melt causes rivers to rise, take a bit of time to minimize the potential storm damage to your appliances. If possible, place appliances that typically are found in basements—such as water heaters, washers and dryers, and furnaces—on cement blocks, at least 12 inches above the projected flood levels.

 

If you live in a flood-prone region, you might want to consider permanently relocating these appliances to a higher floor in your home for extra protection. Don’t have a basement? Raise your refrigerator and stove on cement blocks, too. These little details will make a big difference in the amount of flood damage done to them.

 

2. Check your sump pump

Do floodwaters frequently infiltrate your basement? You should always check your sump pump, which removes water accumulated in the sump basin (usually found in the basement of your home) on a regular basis to make sure it’s working when you need it. Every few months, run clean water through it to remove any dirt and debris that may be clogging the pump. Regular maintenance will keep it running for years—and help keep your home dry during spring floods.

 

If the flooding is severe, however, it’s likely your sump pump won’t be able to handle the influx of water. In this case, don’t try to clean up the damage yourself—call in the professionals to get your home back to pristine condition.

 

3. Buy flood insurance

Are hurricanes a frequent occurrence in your neck of the woods? Does the local river flood almost every year? If so, you may want to consider purchasing flood insurance, which is sold separately from standard home insurance policies.

 

Remember, it often takes 30 days for new insurance policies to go into effect, so make sure you purchase it now—before floods leave your basement a soggy mess! And if you don’t already have one, write up a complete home inventory (with photographs) now; your insurance company will request it when you file a flood damage claim. Store it someplace waterproof and safe.

 

It’s inevitable that your home’s contents will get wet if you’re in the path of a flood, but Paul Davis can help you recover and restore even more of your precious items when you’ve prepared for the influx of water!

 

Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth counties.

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Brian on September 14th, 2012

In a resent post we talked about how sun glare was one of the ways vinyl siding could melt. Frankly I was a little skeptical, I thought, maybe in Florida or Arizona but not here in the beautiful New Jersey Shore. I was wrong, soon after our post I received a call from an adjuster with a “melted siding claim” he wanted me to take a look at.  Wouldn’t you know it , he was right, the siding had drooped in an arch on the two story West side elevation.  The house next door was about 30 feet away and had two double hung window with only 1/2 screens. The two exposed panes are convexed and reflected  enough sun light to heat the siding and melt it. It was confirmed by the homeowner who told me that there where several homes in his Adult Community that had the same problem.  The development is farely new with hardly any trees and  rows of houses facing south.

Sun light magnified by windows next door

The solution which someone came up with before me was simple, put a screen over the exposed glass. My homeowner had his East side windows done about 6 Months before, to stop damaging his other neighbor’s house.  This now is at the top of my,  Stranger things have happen, list.

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Brian on September 6th, 2012

7 Things to Buy for Your Home at the End of Summer

 

Summer is on its way out and fall is just around the corner! While it may be tempting to spend every free moment at the pool or park soaking up the last of summer’s rays, the end of summer is the perfect time to prepare your home for the onslaught of winter. At Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth counties, we know it can be tough to discern which projects you need to accomplish now and which ones can wait until a little later in the season. We compiled this list of 7 things to buy now. You’ll be thanking yourself when winter rolls around!

 

1.      Weatherstripping and/or caulk. If your windows or doors are drafty, you’ll really start to feel it when the cold weather hits in a few months! Buy some new weatherstripping or caulk and apply it to your windows and doors now (bonus: It’ll save you a little extra cash on your energy bill during that last heat wave of summer!).
2.      Furnace filters. Be honest—when was the last time you replaced your furnace filter? If you can’t remember (or didn’t know they required replacing), it’s time to head to the hardware store! Dirty filters inhibit air flow, so you’ll get better heating for better prices this winter if you change your filter now. Plus, you’ll actually increase the life of your furnace if you regularly replace your filters. If your furnace hasn’t had regular maintenance work done in over a year, it’s time to call a professional.


3.      Hardy winter plants. It’s time to clear the annuals out of your window boxes and invest in some hardy winter plants to keep your yard bright during the colder months ahead. Plants like chrysanthemums, cabbage, fuchsias and hollies blossom late into the winter and stand up well to cold temperatures.
4.      Candles, flashlights and matches. Remember last winter, when the windstorm knocked the power out and you couldn’t find candles or flashlights anywhere in your home? Don’t let this year be a repeat performance! At the end of summer, take the time to stock up on these key items. Store them together in a specific, waterproof, easy-access spot in your home. When this year’s “big one” hits, you’ll be glad you planned ahead!

5.      A storm door. If you have an older home, your front and back doors may be made of uninsulated wood—not the best material for keeping windstorms and freezing temperatures out! You might want to consider installing a storm door, which helps seal the entrance, making your home more comfortable and fuel efficient during the winter months. Storm doors are installed outside of your exterior doors; while you don’t have to remove your interior door to do so, you do have to keep the doors open during installation, so it’s best to do this project now before it gets too cold!

6.      Deck sealant. Does your wood deck look graying or faded? Is it starting to crack or grow mildew? If so, you need to reseal your deck before fall begins; otherwise, you risk snowstorms and subsequent snowmelt ruining your deck beyond repair (resulting in exorbitant replacement costs). Also, now’s the time to check for mold growth and call in a professional if hazardous spores are spreading within your deck.

7.      Canned food and bottled water. At the end of summer, do an inventory of your emergency food and water stash. Toss any expired cans, and make sure to replenish your food and water supplies—experts recommend having enough to last each member of your family for three days. When the blizzards do hit, you won’t have to fight the crowds at the supermarkets and risk the stores being sold out of necessities.

Paul Davis Restoration / Emergency Services of Ocean and Monmouth counties.

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