Sunday, September 12, 2010

Fire and flood preparedness

Flood Safety Tips:

Make a home inventory: It could be as simple as a video tape of each room, or as complex as a detailed list of the contents of your home (store away from the home)

Learn the safest route from your home

Keep your car’s gas tank at least ¼ full

Have an emergency kit that includes copies of important documents

Be prepared to evacuate before the water reaches your property

Turn off electricity, gas and water before you leave

If you get caught in your house, move to highest level, or if necessary the roof. Do not try and swim to safety

Floods are deceptive, do not try to walk through water higher than knee deep

Do not drive through flood waters. If your car stalls get out as soon as possible. One cubic yard of water weighs one metric ton.

Fire Safety Tips

Make a home inventory: It could be as simple as a video tape of each room, or as complex as a detailed list of the contents of your home (store away from the home)

Have (and practice) an escape plan including a meeting place outside the home to do a head count.

Have fire alarms on all floors of the home, check once a week, replace batteries if twice a year.

If you encounter smoke, get down on your hands and knees, and crawl to the nearest safe exit. Never go back into a burning house.

If your clothes catch fire, don't run! Stop where you are, drop to the ground, and roll over and over to smother the flames. Cover your face with your hands to protect your face and lungs.

Grease fires can be put out with baking soda or salt, or carefully slipping a TIGHT fitting lid over the pot. Never use water. Store fire extinguisher away from stove.

Flood Clean up:

Exercise caution when first entering your flooded home. If there is still flood water, it is prudent to wear rubber boots and gloves. Turn the electricity off at the breaker box and get all electrical appliances and extension cords up on higher ground dry them out. Make sure your home is structurally safe, which means looking out for broken sharp objects on the floor and anything you might trip over before moving on to restoration.
Boil all drinking water or use bottled water after a flood. Areas that are dry but have been exposed to sewage due to floods should be thoroughly washed down with a solution of household bleach and water. We recommend a 25% bleach to water solution to reduce surface damage and health problems.
Key Flood Rule: If in doubt, throw it out. Toss out all water damaged rugs, particle board furniture, mattresses, suitcases, food, even photographs and books damaged by flood waters. Then follow your local authority guidelines for flood damaged goods disposal. Many electrical appliances will not survive if they have been submerged in flood water. Dishwashers, refrigerators and vacuum cleaners are cheaper to replace than repair following a disaster. Use rubber gloves and mask to clean loose debris to avoid inhaling any toxic particles.
Wash and dry everything you can following a flood. This prevents further damage. Wash and dry water soaked bedding, towels, drapes, cushions and clothing using the hot sanitizing cycle on your washing machine. Dry clean heat sensitive textiles. Put dishes through the dishwasher on hot cycle.
Remove remaining flood water and dehumidify damp areas. Clean up the last standing flood water with a portable submersible sump pump and a wet dry vac. Then use a high capacity, low temperature dehumidifier to take care of the rest. It is important to open windows and ventilate rather than turn on the heat high (about 50°F) in the house or use fans, which is an invitation to grow mold spores and spread them around the house. Do not try to dry out the house too quickly after a flood, because it will cause wood floors to warp and buckle extending flood damage and slowing restoration.
Clean flood affected surfaces thoroughly. Wash all surface area damage, such as walls, cabinets, basement floors including those which were not in direct flood contact with your bleach solution. Then wipe down with clear water.
Check for interior and structural flood damage. Remove dry wall up to and 2 feet above flood levels on walls and remove all insulation which came in contact with flood waters. It is imperative to do this if you want to avoid future mold problems. Replace hardwood flooring especially all sub floors if they have been soaked by flood water. Keep ventilating with fresh air until the house is completely dry. Have the duct work professionally cleaned after the house has dried out.
Inspect your electrical and plumbing systems after a flood. Have an HVAC professional inspect your electrical systems and appliances after flood waters recede. Replace all filters and switches. Check your furnace, as a burnout of the motor may be imminent.

Fire Clean Up

Pressure wash, scrub or disinfect all exterior surfaces including walls, walks, drives, decks, window and deck screens, etc.
Wash and disinfect all interior walls and hard surfaces with mild soap or other appropriate cleaning solutions or products, and rinse thoroughly. Don't forget inside cabinets, drawers and closets.
Launder or dry clean all clothing.
Wash, dust or otherwise clean all household items, including knick-knacks.
Disinfect and deodorize all carpets, window coverings, upholstered furniture and mattresses with steam or other appropriate equipment.
Upholstery, fabric window treatments, etc. can be spray-treated with deodorizing products available at most supermarkets, but do not use odor-masking sprays.
Have heating, ventilating and air-conditioning units and all ductwork professionally cleaned to remove soot, ash and smoke residue. Change filters when you first return to the premises and at least once a month for the first year.
If aerial fire retardant or firefighting foam residue is present on the house and/or automobiles, use a mild detergent and brushes to scrub and dilute the dried residue and flush it from the surfaces; rinse with clean water. A follow-up with pressure washing may be beneficial but will not replace scrubbing to remove the residue.
Ash and soot on the ground and vegetation in the vicinity will continue to generate smoke odors and airborne particles when disturbed by air movement. Until the ash and soot are diluted and absorbed by the environment, indoor mechanical air filtration may help minimize the uncomfortable and potentially health-threatening impact of these pollutants.

Insurance Tips for both Fire and Flood

Make sure your coverage is adequate now, before disaster strikes.
Have some savings to cover expenses until insurance checks arrive.
Take photographs of all damage
Wait for the insurance before repairing or throwing out things (even rotting food in non working refrigerators as the contents will need to be logged before disposal for reimbursement purposes)
Keep all receipts for repairs, temporary lodging, gas and fast food for reimbursement purposes.
Be there when the adjuster comes and take notes.