Across the U.S., severe weather is disrupting daily life. From hurricanes to heavy snow, torrential rains and flooding, cold snaps and other extremes seem to be affecting every corner of our country.
Even if severe weather hasn’t affected you directly, it serves as a reminder that we all need to be prepared should nature take a turn for the worse. The first place to start –put together an emergency kit.
Keep in mind that your emergency kit needs contain enough supplies to maintain you and your family for at least 72 hours without transportation, food, electricity, or water. Customize your kit according to needs and family size but here is a basic list to help you get started building your kit:
One gallon of water or more per day, per person.
Three days’ worth of non-perishable, ready-to-eat food. Remember the can opener!
First aid kit
Cell phone, charger, and backup battery
Flashlight with extra batteries
Personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, moist towelettes, paper towels, toothbrush and toothpaste, hand sanitizer.
Tools such as screwdrivers, pliers, wrenches as you may need to turn off utilities.
A few changes of clothes, shoes, and jackets.
Important family documents in a watertight bag (or scan and store in cloud-based storage.)
Sleeping bags, pillows, blankets
Large plastic sheets and duct tape in case you need to make an emergency shelter.
Medication, extra eyeglasses, eye solution, etc.
Of course, those are just basic suggestions. There are products such as water purifiers, “space blankets,” pop-up shelters, and other innovations that you may want to consider for your kit.
Remember your pets need a kit too! Here are some ideas for a simple emergency kit for pets:
Medication and documentation for your pet
First aid kit
Non-perishable pet food
Collar and leash
Bottled water and bowl.
Where to Store Your Emergency Kit
The best place to store your kit is in a dark, dry, and cool place. Make sure everything is in an airtight, plastic container and easily accessible. Though a basement may seem like a convenient place, retrieving it in an emergency (or flood!) could make it impossible. You’ll also want to make sure that everyone in the family knows where the kit is located.
Remember to check it every year to ensure everything is still in good repair and the food has not expired.
What about your home and mortgage?
There are federal, state, and private programs that you can use to help repair your home and provide temporary housing if needed. Depending on the disaster, the location, and whether it has been declared a state of emergency, you may qualify for federal aid from FEMA. Private home and disaster insurance (this is separate from the insurance you may have on your mortgage) also provides much-needed assistance during times of disaster.
Your mortgage payments may also qualify for forbearance or partial payment. Call Tara Mortgage Services for more information.
At our office, we don’t just work with loans, we work with people –that’s why we feel it’s important that you prepare for an emergency. And please, forward this information to friends and family!
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Have a weak garage door? A severe storm can tear the door off its hinges and blow wind into your home with enough pressure to pop the roof.
When you think about protecting your home from wind damage, make sure to focus on the weak points: windows, doors, garage doors, siding and roofing. Also, don’t forget about trees that can crash onto your home or outdoor furniture that can turn into projectiles.
Take these steps to limit the amount of storm damage to your home:
1. Reinforce the garage door
High winds can blow off a garage door and damage what’s inside, potentially causing structural damage to the entire home. Consider hiring a garage door company to inspect your door to determine its ability to withstand strong winds. It’s better to make a garage door repair now before a storm arrives.
2. Cover windows and doors
Consider installing steel or aluminum storm shutters on your windows, French doors and sliding glass doors. You can close the shutters quickly to prevent flying objects from breaking glass.
3. Secure shingles
When wind blows shingles from your roof, it makes your home vulnerable to rain, creating the need for emergency roof repair. Avoid that by making sure your roofer secures shingles properly.
At least six nails or staples should hold each shingle down; roofers should install the nails or staples beneath the edges of the overlapping shingles. Also, install a waterproof underlayment beneath the shingles for protection against rain in case the wind blows the shingles off your roof.
4. Fasten metal siding and metal roofing
Damaging winds can tear away entire panels, making it easier for wind to enter the home. Contractors should secure metal roofing and siding to the frame of the home with exposed fasteners, such as screws and bolts, or with concealed clips.
Generally, space fasteners close together at the edges of the panels. Cover all siding edges, such as those along the corner of the home, with a metal cap or molding so wind can’t work its way beneath the siding.
5. Remove trees too close to the home
Make sure trees sit far enough away from your home to prevent damage if they fall. Generally, a tree should sit farther away from the home than the height of the tree when fully grown. The cost to remove a tree will depend on its size.
6. Anchor potential projectiles
Anchor storage sheds and outbuildings with a permanent foundation or straps and ground anchors. Secure smaller objects, such as grills and outdoor furniture, by bolting them to decks or patios. Use ground anchors with cables and chains. You can also move smaller objects inside if you have adequate warning before a storm.
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Amazingly, there’s over 12,000 species of ants in the world, but only a small handful of them insist on invading our homes in search of something tasty to eat. For the ants you need to control, there are some very easy, natural and effective natural methods to either ward off or remove ants from your home areas. You can neutralize ant scouts by cleaning your kitchen and storing foodstuffs in containers. You can prevent ants’ access to your home by sealing entrances with caulk, make use of barriers and deterrents, like cinnamon, and use baits, like a maple syrup sprinkled with boric acid. Should all else fail, there are natural pest exterminators who can help you with your ant problem.
MINIMIZE ACCESS FOR SCOUT ANTS
Typically the easiest way to keep your home or apartment ant-free. Keep food areas clean and neat, wash dishes as soon as you are done with them, sweep and vacuum daily, keep food sealed in containers to avoid surprise infestations, and clean, clean, clean! Scout ants take samples of food back to the rest of their crew, so the idea is to keep the scout ants as far away as possible. Early detection and prevention is imperative.
FORM DETERRENTS AND BARRIERS
If stubborn scout ants still attempt to infiltrate your living quarters, it’s time to construct a front line of defense. First, identify all entrance points and seal all holes with silicone caulk. Alternatively, you can use putty, glue or plaster. Next, get ready to arm yourself with a spray gun and some soapy water, which will both kill the ants and their chemical trail. Add citrus peels or rind oils to make the spray extra potent.
Many of the products that form natural ant barriers are probably already in your kitchen; they just need to be deployed properly. Use barriers on places like sills, floors, counters, and around ant access points. Some of the items with which you can form barriers include:
A line of chalk
Black pepper, cayenne pepper, or red chili pepper.
Vaseline (great for doors and windows)
White vinegar and water
If your ant problem doesn’t seem to be going away, set some baits. A mixture of boric acid and maple syrup is highly effective, but highly poisonous. Translation: Please be careful when using boric acid! Alternatively, certain foods like cornmeal, cream of wheat, and coffee grinds will work wonders. These foods are extremely poisonous to ants, and extremely safe for in-home use.
CALL A PROFESSIONAL
When all else fails, contact a professional. Not always the most cost effective, but saves on time and labor!
(Editor’s note: This blog was written last fall during the onslaught of flooding around the country. Due to the recent flooding, we thought this was a perfect time for a refresher.)
Flood season is almost over here in the Pittsburgh area. While we had a rougher year than normal in the Steel City and surrounding areas, our summer floods paled in comparison to the tragic events in Texas, Louisiana, Florida, and Puerto Rico. We send our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to everyone affected by these extreme weather events.
Seeing the damage and hearing the heartbreaking stories made me realize…I wouldn’t know what to do if I was faced with the horrendous storm. Or any storm, for that matter. I’m sure I’m not alone, either. Until we’re faced with such adversity, it’s hard to truly prepare for the unknown.
Flooding is a temporary overflowing of water onto land that is normally dry. Flooding may happen with only a few inches of water, or it may cover a house to the rooftop. There are many possible causes of floods including heavy rain or snowmelt, coastal storms and storm surge, waterway overflow from being blocked with debris or ice, or overflow of levees, dams, or waste water systems, Flooding can occur slowly over many days or happen very quickly with little or no warning, called flash floods.
Flooding can happen in any U.S. state or territory. It is particularly important to be prepared for flooding if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water, such as near a river, stream, or culvert; along a coast; or downstream from a dam or levee.
Flooding can occur during every season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. Coastal areas are at greater risk for flooding during hurricane season (i.e., June to November), while the Midwest is more at risk in the spring and during heavy summer rains. Ice jams occur in the spring in the Northeast and Northwest. Even the deserts of the Southwest are at risk during the late summer monsoon season.
BASIC SAFETY TIPS
Turn Around, Don’t Drown! ®
Avoid walking or driving through flood waters.
Do not drive over bridges that are over fast-moving floodwaters. Floodwaters can scour foundation material from around the footings and make the bridge unstable.
Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
If there is a chance of flash flooding, move immediately to higher ground.
If floodwaters rise around your car but the water is not moving, abandon the car and move to higher ground. Do not leave the car and enter moving water.
Avoid camping or parking along streams, rivers, and creeks during heavy rainfall. These areas can flood quickly and with little warning.
Flood Watch = “Be Aware.” (Conditions are right for flooding to occur in your area.)
Steps to Take
Turn on your TV/radio/phone. Sounds comical, but you will receive the latest weather updates and emergency instructions.
Know where to go. You may need to reach higher ground quickly and on foot.
Build or restock your emergency preparedness kit. Include a flashlight, batteries, cash, and first aid supplies.Prepare Your Home
Bring in outdoor furniture and move important indoor items to the highest possible floor. This will help protect them from flood damage.
Disconnect electrical appliances and do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water. You could be electrocuted.
If instructed, turn off your gas and electricity at the main switch or valve. This helps prevent fires and explosions.
Flood Warning = “Take Action!” (Flooding is either happening or will happen shortly.)
Steps to Take
Move immediately to higher ground or stay on high ground.
Evacuate if directed.
Avoid walking or driving through flood waters. Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Just 6 inches of moving water can knock you down and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.
Return home only when authorities say it is safe.
Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded and watch out for debris. Floodwaters often erode roads and walkways.
Do not attempt to drive through areas that are still flooded.
Avoid standing water as it may be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
Photograph damage to your property for insurance purposes.
Winter storms aren’t uncommon in the Northeast and here in Pittsburgh. One prime example is the massive storm of 2010, known as Snowmageddon.
Now in its eighth anniversary, folks are still reminiscing about the February 2010 storm that wreaked havoc in cities from the West Coast to the East Coast, but most notably the Mid-Atlantic. The storm caused more than 40 fatalities, including deaths in Mexico as well as the United States.
Pittsburgh was the first major city to experience part of the nor’easter’s heaviest snow, raking in 11.4 inches on Feb. 5 and an additional 9.7 inches on the 6th (that’s 21.1 inches in two days)!
Three days later, almost 8 more inches of snow fell over a two-day span.
Snowmageddon is currently ranked as the fourth largest snowstorm on record, just behind the March blizzard of 1993 in which 25.3 inches of snow fell.
The 2010 storm dropped heavy and wet snow on cities across the state, which caused more damage to trees and power lines compared to the infamous blizzard of 1993. Power was out for thousands of people in southwestern Pennsylvania for a week or more.
In the end, the city of Pittsburgh spent several weeks clearing out. The cost of the clean-up from Snowmageddon, as well as the storm immediately following, added up to more than $5 million.