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Plan For Your Pets

1/31/2018 (Permalink)

Emergencies come in many forms, and they may require anything from a brief absence from your home to permanent evacuation. Each type of disaster requires different measures to keep your pets safe, so the best thing you can do for yourself and your pets is to be prepared. Here are simple steps you can follow now to make sure you’re ready before the next disaster strikes:

Step 1: Get a Rescue Alert Sticker

This easy-to-use sticker will let people know that pets are inside your home. Make sure it is visible to rescue workers (we recommend placing it on or near your front door), and that it includes the types and number of pets in your home as well as the name and number of your veterinarian. If you must evacuate with your pets, and if time allows, write “EVACUATED” across the stickers. To get a free emergency pet alert sticker for your home, please fill out our online order form and allow 6-8 weeks for delivery. Your local pet supply store may also sell similar stickers.

Step 2: Arrange a Safe Haven

Arrange a haven for your pets in the event of evacuation. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PETS BEHIND. Remember, if it isn’t safe for you, it isn’t safe for your pets. They may become trapped or escape and be exposed to numerous life-threatening hazards. Note that not all shelters accept pets, so it is imperative that you have determined where you will bring your pets ahead of time:

  • Contact your veterinarian for a list of preferred boarding kennels and facilities.
  • Ask your local animal shelter if they provide emergency shelter or foster care for pets.
  • Identify hotels or motels outside of your immediate area that accept pets.
  • Ask friends and relatives outside your immediate area if they would be willing to take in your pet.

Step 3: Choose "Designated Caregivers

This step will take considerable time and thought. When choosing a temporary caregiver, consider someone who lives close to your residence. He or she should be generally home during the day while you are at work or has easy access to your home. A set of keys should be given to this trusted individual. This may work well with neighbors who have pets of their own—you may even swap responsibilities, depending upon who has accessibility.

When selecting a permanent caregiver, you’ll need to consider other criteria. This is a person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet if something should happen to you. When selecting this “foster parent,” consider people who have met your pet and have successful cared for animals in the past. Be sure to discuss your expectations at length with a permanent caregiver, so he or she understands the responsibility of caring for your pet.

Step 4: Prepare Emergency Supplies and Traveling Kits

If you must evacuate your home in a crisis, plan for the worst-case scenario. Even if you think you may be gone for only a day, assume that you may not be allowed to return for several weeks. When recommendations for evacuation have been announced, follow the instructions of local and state officials. To minimize evacuation time, take these simple steps:

  • Make sure all pets wear collars and tags with up-to-date identification information. Your pet’s ID tag should contain his name, telephone number and any urgent medical needs. Be sure to also write your pet’s name, your name and contact information on your pet’s carrier.
  • The ASPCA recommends microchipping your pet as a more permanent form of identification. A microchip is implanted under the skin in the animal’s shoulder area, and can be read by a scanner at most animal shelters.
  • Always bring pets indoors at the first sign or warning of a storm or disaster. Pets can become disoriented and wander away from home in a crisis.
  • Store an emergency kit and leashes as close to an exit as possible. Make sure that everyone in the family knows where it is, and that it clearly labeled and easy to carry. Items to consider keeping in or near your “Evac-Pack” include:
  • Pet first-aid kit and guide book (ask your vet what to include)
  • 3-7 days’ worth of canned (pop-top) or dry food (be sure to rotate every two months)
  • Disposable litter trays (aluminum roasting pans are perfect)
  • Litter or paper toweling
  • Liquid dish soap and disinfectant
  • Disposable garbage bags for clean-up
  • Pet feeding dishes and water bowls
  • Extra collar or harness as well as an extra leash
  • Photocopies and/or USB of medical records and a waterproof container with a two-week supply of any medicine your pet requires (Remember, food and medications need to be rotated out of your emergency kit—otherwise they may go bad or become useless)
  • At least seven days’ worth of bottled water for each person and pet (store in a cool, dry place and replace every two months)
  • A traveling bag, crate or sturdy carrier, ideally one for each pet
  • Flashlight
  • Blanket
  • Recent photos of your pets (in case you are separated and need to make “Lost” posters)
  • Especially for cats: Pillowcase, toys, scoop-able litter
  • Especially for dogs: Extra leash, toys and chew toys, a week’s worth of cage liner

You should also have an emergency kit for the human members of the family. Items to include: Batteries, duct tape, flashlight, radio, multi-tool, tarp, rope, permanent marker, spray paint, baby wipes, protective clothing and footwear, extra cash, rescue whistle, important phone numbers, extra medication and copies of medical and insurance information.

Step 5: Keep the ASPCA On-Hand Always

The free ASPCA mobile app shows pet parents exactly what to do in case of a natural disaster. It also allows pet owners to store vital medical records and provides information on making life-saving decisions during natural disasters. With a few swipes, you can:

  • Access critical advice on what to do with your pet before, during, and after a major storm—even if there’s no data connectivity.
  • Store and manage your pet’s critical health records.
  • Receive a personalized missing pet recovery kit, including step-by-step instructions on how to search for a lost animal in a variety of circumstances.
  • Build a lost pet digital flyer that can be shared instantly on your social media channels.
  • Get the latest and most relevant news about pets and animal welfare.

Other Considerations

Geographic Considerations: If you live in an area that is prone to certain natural disasters, such as tornadoes, earthquakes or floods, you should plan accordingly.

  • Determine well in advance which rooms offer safe havens. These rooms should be clear or hazards such as windows, flying debris, etc.
  • Choose easy-to-clean areas such as utility rooms, bathrooms and basements as safe zones
  • Access to a supply of fresh water is particularly important. In areas that may lose electricity, fill up bathtubs and sinks ahead of time to ensure that you have access to water during a power outage or other crises.
  • In the event of flooding, go to the highest location in your home, or a room that has access to counters or high shelves where your animals can take shelter.

Special Considerations for Horses

  • Keep a clean and tidy stable and pasture. Remove hazardous and flammable materials, debris and machinery from around the barn’s walkways, entrances and exits. Regularly maintain and inspect barn floors and septic tanks. Inspect your grounds regularly and remove dangerous debris in the pasture.
  • Prevent fires by instituting a no-smoking policy around your barn. Avoid using or leaving on appliances in the barn, even seemingly-harmless appliances like box fans, heaters and power tools can overheat. Exposed wiring can also lead to electrical fires in the barn, as can a simple nudge from an animal who accidentally knocks over a machine.
  • Get your horse used to wearing a halter, and get him used to trailering. Periodically, you should practice quickly getting your horse on a trailer for the same reason that schools have fire drills—asking a group of unpracticed children to exit a burning building in a calm fashion is a little unrealistic, as is requesting a new and strange behavior of your horse.
  • If you own a trailer, please inspect it regularly. Also, make sure your towing vehicle is appropriate for the size and weight of the trailer and horse. Always make sure the trailer is hitched properly—the hitch locked on the ball, safety chains or cables attached, and emergency brake battery charged and linked to towing vehicle. Proper tire pressure (as shown on the tire wall) is also very important.
  • Get your horse well-socialized and used to being handled by all kinds of strangers. If possible, invite emergency responders and/or members of your local fire service to interact with your horse. It will be mutually beneficial for them to become acquainted. Firemen’s turnout gear may smell like smoke and look unusual, which many horses find frightening—so ask them to wear their usual response gear to get your horse used to the look and smell.
  • Set up a phone tree/buddy system with other nearby horse owners and local farms. This could prove invaluable should you—or they—need to evacuate animals or share resources like trailers, pastures or extra hands!
  • Keep equine veterinary records in a safe place where they can quickly be reached. Be sure to post emergency phone numbers by the phone. Include your 24-hour veterinarian, emergency services and friends. You should also keep a copy for emergency services personnel in the barn that includes phone numbers for you, your emergency contact, your 24-hour veterinarian and several friends.

Special Considerations for Birds

  • Birds should be transported in a secure travel cage or carrier.
  • In cold weather, make certain you have a blanket over your pet’s cage. This may also help reduce the stress of traveling.
  • In warm weather, carry a spray bottle to periodically moisten your bird’s feathers.
  • Have recent photos available, and keep your bird’s leg bands on for identification.
  • If the carrier does not have a perch, line it for paper towels that you can change frequently.
  • Keep the carrier in as quiet an area as possible.
  • It is particularly imperative that birds eat daily, so purchase a timed feeder. If you need to leave your bird unexpectedly, the feeder will ensure his daily feeding schedule.
  • Items to keep on hand: Catch net, heavy towel, blanket or sheet to cover cage, cage liner.

Special Considerations for Reptiles

  • A snake may be transported in a pillowcase, but you should have permanent and secure housing for him when you reach a safe place.
  • Take a sturdy bowl that is large for your pet to soak in. It’s also a good idea to bring along a heating pad or other warming devise, such as a hot water bottle.
  • Lizards can be transported like birds (see above).

Special Considerations for Small Animals

  • Small animals, such as hamsters, gerbils, mice and guinea pigs, should be transported in secure carriers with bedding materials, food and food bowls.
  • Items to keep on hand: Salt lick, extra water bottle, small hide box or tube, a week’s worth of bedding.

Source: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/general-pet-care/disaster-preparedness

Winter Driving Tips

1/24/2018 (Permalink)

Driving in the winter can be harrowing, especially where blizzard and icy conditions crop up seemingly out of nowhere. But new safety technologies are being added to cars at a record rate. Some can even take control of the vehicle to help us avoid crashes.

One such technology that's particularly useful in winter is traction control. This function helps your vehicle? gain traction on snowy, icy or wet surfaces, particularly when accelerating from a stopped or slowed position, or when trying to make it up a slippery hill. Traction control is now standard on most new vehicles.

My Car Does What? is a campaign of the National Safety Council and the University of Iowa to help educate drivers on dozens of new vehicle safety technologies. But remember, you are your car's best safety feature. Take precautions to ensure you arrive safely at your destination.

Check the Weather Before You Go

If the weather is frigid, you're going to want to warm up the car before you drive it. To prevent carbon monoxide poisoning?, never leave a vehicle running in an enclosed area, such as a garage. In fact, the Consumer Product Safety Commission warns that a car running in an attached garage is never safe, even with the garage door open.

If the forecast looks iffy, wait out the storm if possible. But if you must travel make sure you share your travel plans and route with someone before you leave.

If you become stranded in an unfamiliar area, do not leave your car. Light flares in front and behind the car and make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow, mud or any object.

Prepare Your Car for Winter

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:

  • Ignition
  • Brakes
  • Wiring
  • Hoses and fan belts
  • Spark plugs
  • Air, fuel and emissions filters, and PCV valve
  • Distributor
  • Battery
  • Tire wear and air pressure
  • Antifreeze level and freeze line

Know What to Do to Avoid a Crash

You've done all you can to prepare your car, you've checked the weather, but suddenly you find yourself driving in a slippery mess. If visibility is severely limited due to a whiteout, pull off the road and don't even attempt to drive farther until conditions improve.

But sometimes water or ice on the road can surprise drivers, even with little to no precipitation. Do you know how to prevent a skid? Would you know what to do if you ended up sliding toward another vehicle or fixed object? If you don't want to end up in a crash like the one in Michigan, AAA offers some winter driving tips.

  • Never mix radial tires with other types of tires
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather
  • Do not use cruise control in wintery conditions
  • Look and steer in the direction you want to go
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly
  • Increase following distance to 8 to 10 seconds
  • Know whether you have antilock brakes, which will "pump" the brakes for you in a skid
  • If possible, don't stop when going uphill
  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full
  • If you do get stranded, don't try to push your vehicle out of snow
  • Signal distress with a brightly colored cloth tied to the antenna or in a rolled up window

Don't Leave Home Without These

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

  • Properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod jack
  • Shovel
  • Jumper cables
  • Tow and tire chains
  • Bag of salt or cat litter for better tire traction or to melt snow
  • Tool kit
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • Reflective triangles or flares
  • Compass
  • First aid kit
  • Windshield cleaner
  • Ice scraper and snow brush
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Scissors and string or cord
  • Nonperishable, high-energy foods like unsalted, canned nuts, dried fruits and hard candy
  • Blankets, mittens, socks and hats

Winter road trips – even short ones – are a great way to celebrate with family and friends. Being prepared can ensure a safe and happy time is had by all.

Source: http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/news-and-resources-winter-your-car-and-you.aspx

FROZEN PIPES

1/2/2018 (Permalink)

Why Pipe Freezing is a Problem

Water has a unique property in that it expands as it freezes. This expansion puts tremendous pressure on whatever is containing it, including metal or plastic pipes. No matter the strength of a container, expanding water can cause pipes to break.

Pipes that freeze most frequently are:

Pipes that are exposed to severe cold, like outdoor hose bibs, swimming pool supply lines, and water sprinkler lines.

Water supply pipes in unheated interior areas like basements and crawl spaces, attics, garages, or kitchen cabinets.

Pipes that run against exterior walls that have little or no insulation.

How to Protect Pipes from Freezing

Before the onset of cold weather, protect your pipes from freezing by following these recommendations: Drain water from swimming pool and water sprinkler supply lines following manufacturer's or installer's directions. Do not put antifreeze in these lines unless directed. Antifreeze is environmentally harmful, and is dangerous to humans, pets, wildlife, and landscaping.

Remove, drain, and store hoses used outdoors. Close inside valves supplying outdoor hose bibs. Open the outside hose bibs to allow water to drain. Keep the outside valve open so that any water remaining in the pipe can expand without causing the pipe to break.

Add insulation to attics, basements and crawl spaces. Insulation will maintain higher temperatures in these areas.

Check around the home for other areas where water supply lines are in unheated areas. Look in the garage, and under kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Both hot and cold-water pipes in these areas should be insulated.

Consider installing specific products made to insulate water pipes like a "pipe sleeve" or installing UL-listed "heat tape," "heat cable," or similar materials on exposed water pipes. Newspaper can provide some degree of insulation and protection to exposed pipes – even ¼” of newspaper can provide significant protection in areas that usually do not have frequent or prolonged temperatures below freezing.

Consider relocating exposed pipes to provide increased protection from freezing.

How to Prevent Frozen Pipes

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

Open kitchen and bathroom cabinet doors to allow warmer air to circulate around the plumbing. Be sure to move any harmful cleaners and household chemicals up out of the reach of children.

When the weather is very cold outside, let the cold-water drip from the 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 both during the day and at night. By suspending the use of lower nighttime temperatures, you may incur a higher heating bill, but you can prevent a much costlier repair job if pipes freeze and burst.

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

How to Thaw Frozen Pipes

If you turn on a faucet and only a trickle comes out, suspect a frozen pipe. Likely places for frozen pipes include against exterior walls or where your water service enters your home through the foundation.

Keep the faucet open. As you treat the frozen pipe and the frozen area begins to melt, water will begin to flow through the frozen area. Running water through the pipe 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, a portable space heater (kept away from flammable materials), or by wrapping pipes with towels soaked in hot water. Do not use a blowtorch, kerosene or propane heater, charcoal stove, or other open flame device.

Apply heat until full water pressure is restored. If you are unable to locate the frozen area, if the frozen area is not accessible, or if you cannot thaw the pipe, call a licensed plumber.

Check all other faucets in your home to find out if you have additional frozen pipes. If one pipe freezes, others may freeze, too.

Source: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm/frozen-pipes

What to do After a Snow Storm

12/28/2017 (Permalink)

After a Winter Storm

Continue listening to local news or a NOAA Weather Radio for updated information and instructions. Access to some parts of the community may be limited or roads may be blocked.

Help people who require special assistance—infants, elderly people, those without transportation, large families who may need additional help in an emergency, people with disabilities, and the people who care for them.

Avoid driving and other travel until conditions have improved.

Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of death during the winter.

Check on your animals and ensure that their access to food and water is unimpeded by drifted snow, ice, or other obstacles.

If you are using a portable generator, take precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution and fire.

Identifying & Treating Frostbite and Hypothermia

Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening.

Take these steps to avoid frostbite and hypothermia:

Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold.

Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Stay active to maintain body heat.

Take frequent breaks from the cold.

Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear

- Frostbite

Frostbite is the freezing of a specific body part such as fingers, toes, the nose or earlobes.

Signs of frostbite:

Lack of feeling in the affected area

Skin that appears waxy, is cold to the touch, or is discolored (flushed, white or gray, yellow or blue)

What to do for frostbite:

  1. Move the person to a warm place
  1. Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area
  1. Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100–105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm
  1. Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings
  1. If the person’s fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated
  1. Avoid breaking any blisters
  1. Do not allow the affected area to refreeze
  1. Seek professional medical care as soon as possible

- Hypothermia

Hypothermia is the cooling of the body caused by the failure of the body’s warming system. The goals of first aid are to restore normal body temperature and to care for any conditions while waiting for EMS personnel.

Signs of hypothermia:

Shivering

Numbness or weakness

Glassy stare

Apathy or impaired judgment

Loss of consciousness

What to do for hypothermia:

  1. CALL 9-1-1 or the local emergency number
  1. Gently move the person to a warm place
  1. Monitor breathing and circulation
  1. Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed
  1. Remove any wet clothing and dry the person
  1. Warm the person slowly by wrapping in blankets or by putting dry clothing on the person.

Hot water bottles and chemical hot packs may be used when first wrapped in a towel or blanket before applying. Do not warm the person too quickly, such as by immersing him or her in warm water.

Warm the core first (trunk, abdomen), not the extremities (hands, feet).

Source: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm#Before

What happens during a snow storm

12/27/2017 (Permalink)

Stay Safe During a Winter Storm

- Staying Safe During a Winter Storm or Blizzard

Stay indoors and wear warm clothes. Layers of loose-fitting, lightweight, warm clothing will keep you warmer than a bulky sweater. If you feel too warm, remove layers to avoid sweating; if you feel chilled, add layers.

Listen to a local station on battery-powered radio or television or to NOAA Weather Radio for updated emergency information.

Bring your companion animals inside before the storm begins.

Move other animals to sheltered areas with a supply of non-frozen water. Most animal deaths in winter storms are caused by dehydration.

Eat regularly. Food provides the body with energy for producing its own heat.

Keep the body replenished with fluids to prevent dehydration. Drink liquids such as warm broth or juice. Avoid caffeine and alcohol. Caffeine, a stimulant, accelerates the symptoms of hypothermia. Alcohol, such as brandy, is a depressant and hastens the effects of cold on the body. Alcohol also slows circulation and can make you less aware of the effects of cold. Both caffeine and alcohol can cause dehydration.

Conserve fuel. Winter storms can last for several days, placing great demand on electric, gas, and other fuel distribution systems (fuel oil, propane, etc.). Lower the thermostat to 65° F (18° C) during the day and to 55° F (13° C) at night. Close off unused rooms, and stuff towels or rags in cracks under the doors. Cover the windows at night.

Check on relatives, neighbors, and friends, particularly if they are elderly or if they live alone.

- Staying Safe Outside

If you must go outside, protect yourself from winter storm hazards: Wear layered clothing, mittens or gloves, and a hat. Outer garments should be tightly woven and water repellent. Mittens or gloves and a hat will prevent the loss of body heat.

Cover your mouth to protect your lungs from severely cold air. Avoid taking deep breaths; minimize talking.

Watch for signs of hypothermia and frostbite.

Keep dry. Change wet clothing frequently to prevent a loss of body heat. Wet clothing loses much of its insulating value and transmits heat rapidly away from the body.

Stretch before you go out. If you go out to shovel snow, do a few stretching exercises to warm up your body. This will reduce your chances of muscle injury.

Avoid overexertion, such as shoveling heavy snow, pushing a vehicle, or walking in deep snow. The strain from the cold and the hard labor may cause a heart attack. Sweating could lead to a chill and hypothermia.

Walk carefully on snowy, icy sidewalks. Slips and falls occur frequently in winter weather, resulting in painful and sometimes disabling injuries.

If you must go out during a winter storm, use public transportation if possible. About 70 percent of winter deaths related to ice and snow occur in automobiles.

Driving in Winter Conditions

Check your vehicle emergency supplies kit and replenish it if necessary.

Bring enough of the following for each person:

- Blankets or sleeping bags

- Rain gear, extra sets of dry clothing, mittens, socks, and wool hats

- Newspapers for insulation

- Plastic bags for sanitation

- Canned fruit, nuts, and high energy snacks (Include a non-electric can opener if necessary)

- Warm broth in a thermos and several bottles of water

- Keep a cell phone or two-way radio with you. Make sure the battery is charged.

- Plan to travel during daylight and, if possible, take at least one other person with you.

Let someone know your destination, your route, and when you expect to arrive. If your vehicle gets stuck along the way, help can be sent along your predetermined route.

Before leaving, listen to weather reports for your area and the areas you will be passing through, or call the state highway patrol for the latest road conditions.

Be on the lookout for sleet, freezing rain, freezing drizzle, and dense fog, which can make driving very hazardous

- If You Become Stranded

Stay in the vehicle and wait for help. Do not leave the vehicle to search for assistance unless help is visible within 100 yards (91 meters). You can quickly become disoriented and confused in blowing snow.

Display a trouble sign to indicate you need help. Hang a brightly colored cloth (preferably red) on the radio antenna and raise the hood after snow stops falling.

Run the engine occasionally to keep warm. Turn on the engine for about 10 minutes each hour (or five minutes every half hour). Running the engine for only short periods reduces the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning and conserves fuel. Use the heater while the engine is running. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow, and slightly open a downwind window for ventilation.

Leave the overhead light on when the engine is running so that you can be seen.

Do light exercises to keep up circulation. Clap your hands and move your arms and legs occasionally. Try not to stay in one position for too long.

If more than one person is in the vehicle, take turns sleeping. If you are not awakened periodically to increase body temperature and circulation, you can freeze to death.

Huddle together for warmth. Use newspapers, maps, and even the removable floor mats for added insulation. Layering items will help trap more body heat.

Watch for signs of frostbite and hypothermia. Severe cold can cause numbness, making you unaware of possible danger.

Drink fluids to avoid dehydration, which can make you more susceptible to the ill effects of cold and to heart attacks.

Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an added strain on the heart. Shoveling snow or pushing a vehicle can bring on a heart attack or make other medical conditions worse.

Source: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm#Before

How to prepare for a winter storm

12/26/2017 (Permalink)

Prepare in Advance

Assembling an emergency preparedness kit.

Creating a household evacuation plan that includes your pets.

Staying informed about your community’s risk and response plans.

Educating your family on how to use the Safe and Well website.

Download the Emergency App for iPhone >> or for Android >>

How to Prepare for a Winter Storm

Protecting your family

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.

Protecting your pets & animals

Bring your companion animals indoors.

- Ensure that you have supplies for cleanup for your companion animals, particularly if they are used to eliminating outdoors (large plastic bags, paper towels, and extra cat litter).

Create a place where your other animals can be comfortable in severe winter weather:

- Horses and livestock should have a shelter where they can be protected from wind, snow, ice, and rain.

- Grazing animals should have access to a protected supply of food and non-frozen water.

Be aware of the potential for flooding when snow and ice melt and be sure that your animals have access to high ground that is not impeded by fencing or other barriers. You may not be able to get to them in time to relocate them in the event of flooding.

- Ensure that any outbuildings that house or shelter animals can withstand wind and heavy snow and ice.

- Install snow fences in rural areas to reduce drifting snow on roads and paths, which could block access to homes, barns, and animals' feed and water.

Protecting your home

Learn how to protect pipes from freezing

Make sure your home heating sources are installed according to local codes and permit requirements and are clean and in working order.

Make sure your home is properly insulated. Caulk and weather-strip doors and windowsills to keep cold air out.

Install storm windows or cover windows with plastic from the inside to provide an extra layer of insulation to keep cold air out.

Consider buying emergency heating equipment, such as a wood- or coal-burning stove or an electric or kerosene heater.

- Stoves must be properly vented and in good working order. Dispose of ashes safely. Keep a supply of wood or coal on hand.

- Electric space heaters, either portable or fixed, must be certified by an independent testing laboratory. Plug a heater directly into the wall socket rather than using an extension cord and unplug it when it is not in use.

- Use a kerosene heater only if permitted by law in your area; check with your local fire department. Use only the correct fuel for your unit. Properly ventilate the area. Refuel the unit outdoors only, and only when the unit is cool. Follow all of the manufacturer's instructions.

Consider storing sufficient heating fuel. Regular fuel sources may be cut off. Be cautious of fire hazards when storing any type of fuel.

If you have a fireplace, consider keeping a supply of firewood or coal. Be sure the fireplace is properly vented and in good working order and that you dispose of ashes safely.

Consider installing a portable generator, following our safety tips to avoid home fires and carbon monoxide poisoning

Consider purchasing flood insurance, if you live in a flood-prone area, to cover possible flood damage that may occur during the spring thaw. Homeowners' policies do not cover damage from floods. Ask your insurance agent about the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) if you are at risk. More information on NFIP is available at www.fema.gov/nfip.

-Right before a blizzard / winter storm

If you do nothing else: Listen to local area radio, NOAA radio or TV stations for the latest information and updates.

Be prepared to evacuate if you lose power or heat and know your routes and destinations. Find a local emergency shelter.

Check emergency kit and replenish any items missing or in short supply, especially medications and medical supplies. Keep it nearby.

Be sure you have ample heating fuel.

If you have alternative heating sources, such as fireplaces, wood- or coal-burning stoves, or space heaters, be sure they are clean and in working order.

Check that your fire extinguisher(s) is in good working order, and replace it if necessary.

Bring your companion animals inside and ensure that your horses and livestock have blankets if appropriate and unimpeded access to shelter, food, and non-frozen water.

Source: http://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/winter-storm#Before

Christmas Fire Safety Tips

12/19/2017 (Permalink)

Holiday Fire Safety Tips

The holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year for household fires, so take note of these tips to reduce your risk.

A fireplace screen prevents embers from popping out onto your floor.

Residential fires during the holiday season are more frequent, more costly, and more deadly than at any other time of the year. The U.S. Fire Administration (USFA) reports more than double the number of open-flame fires on Christmas Day than on an average day, and about twice as many on New Year’s Day. And when those fires occur, they do more damage: Property loss during a holiday fire is 34% greater than in an average fire, and the number of fatalities per thousand fires is nearly 70% higher. When the source of the fire is a highly flammable Christmas tree, the toll in property and lives is even greater.

To keep your household from becoming a holiday fire statistic, here are some safety tips to follow.

Cooking

Cooking is the top cause of holiday fires, according to the USFA. The most common culprit is food that’s left unattended. It’s easy to get distracted; take a pot holder with you when you leave the kitchen as a reminder that you have something on the stove. Make sure to keep a kitchen fire extinguisher that’s rated for all types of fires, and check that smoke detectors are working.

If you’re planning to deep-fry your holiday turkey, do it outside, on a flat, level surface at least 10 feet from the house.

Candles

The incidence of candle fires is four times higher during December than during other months. According to the National Fire Protection Association, four of the five most dangerous days of the year for residential candle fires are Christmas/Christmas Eve and New Year’s/New Year’s Eve. (The fifth is Halloween.)

To reduce the danger, maintain about a foot of space between the candle and anything that can burn. Set candles on sturdy bases or cover with hurricane globes. Never leave flames unattended. Before bed, walk through each room to make sure candles are blown out. For atmosphere without worry, consider flameless LED candles.

Christmas Trees

It takes less than 30 seconds for a dry tree to engulf a room in flames, according to the Building and Fire Research Laboratory of the National Institute for Standards and Technology. “They make turpentine out of pine trees,” notes Tom Olshanski, spokesman for the USFA. “A Christmas tree is almost explosive when it goes.”

To minimize risk, buy a fresh tree with intact needles, get a fresh cut on the trunk, and water it every day. A well-watered tree is almost impossible to ignite. Keep the tree away from heat sources, such as a fireplace or radiator, and out of traffic patterns. If you’re using live garlands and other greenery, keep them at least three feet away from heating sources.

No matter how well the tree is watered, it will start to dry out after about four weeks, Olshanski says, so take it down after the holidays. Artificial trees don’t pose much of a fire hazard; just make sure yours is flame-retardant.

Decorative Lights

Inspect light strings, and throw out any with frayed or cracked wires or broken sockets. When decorating, don’t run more than three strings of lights end to end. “Stacking the plugs is much safer when you’re using a large quantity of lights,” explains Brian L. Vogt, director of education for holiday lighting firm Christmas Décor. Extension cords should be in good condition and UL-rated for indoor or outdoor use. Check outdoor receptacles to make sure the ground fault interrupters don’t trip. If they trip repeatedly, Vogt says, that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.

When hanging lights outside, avoid using nails or staples, which can damage the wiring and increase the risk of a fire. Instead, use UL-rated clips or hangers. And take lights down within 90 days, says John Drengenberg, director of consumer safety for Underwriters Laboratories.  “If you leave them up all year round, squirrels chew on them and they get damaged by weather.”

Kids Playing with Matches

The number of blazes — and, tragically, the number of deaths — caused by children playing with fire goes up significantly during the holidays. From January through March, 13% of fire deaths are the result of children playing with fire, the USFA reports; in December, that percentage doubles. So keep matches and lighters out of kids’ reach. “We tend to underestimate the power of these tools,” says Meri-K Appy, president of the nonprofit Home Safety Council. “A match or lighter could be more deadly than a loaded gun in the hands of a small child.”

Fireplaces

Soot can harden on chimney walls as flammable creosote, so before the fireplace season begins, have your chimney inspected to see if it needs cleaning. Screen the fireplace to prevent embers from popping out onto the floor or carpet, and never use flammable liquids to start a fire in the fireplace. Only burn seasoned wood — no wrapping paper.

When cleaning out the fireplace, put embers in a metal container and set them outside to cool for 24 hours before disposal. 

source:https://www.houselogic.com/home-thoughts/holiday-fire-safety-tips/

Fall is Here!

11/13/2017 (Permalink)

Source: Esurance blog

blog.esurance.com

Preparing Your Home for Winter: 8 Fall Maintenance Hacks for Cold-Weather Comfort

We all look forward to fall’s festivities. But taking the time to prepare your home for winter (before it arrives) can help ensure you’re cozying up by the fireside — worry-free — once cold weather rolls around. Find out how with these 8 simple hacks.

Ahhh, fall is finally here! The leaves are changing, there’s a crisp coolness in the air, and our favorite pumpkin-flavored treats line store shelves once more. Decorating and meal-prepping might be the first things on your mind when it comes to preparing your home for the colder months — but the National Weather Service is predicting strong winter storms that could affect homeowners across the country this year.

Here are 8 important fall maintenance tips that can make all the difference once winter’s first freeze hits.

  1. Clear out your gutters

All those colorful leaves falling from the trees sure are pretty — but they also pile up quickly in your home’s gutters.

Excess debris can lead to clogs (or ice dams in wintery conditions), which can prevent gutters from draining properly. In turn, there’s a chance water could seep into your home since it has nowhere else to escape to, causing a multitude of issues like damage to your valuables, mold growth, and even structural rot.

Before winter hits, clear your house’s gutters of leaves and any other debris that might’ve accumulated during the summer months. It also helps to run water through the gutters afterward to check for any leaks or misalignments that could damage your home.

  1. Inspect for air leaks

things like damaged weather stripping and small cracks in your home’s structure allow warm air to escape, causing your heater to go into overdrive to keep your place warm.

The solution to your chilly house and high utility bills is simple: before it gets wintery outside, inspect your home’s windows, doorways, and any other places where air might be able to enter or exit.

You can use caulking to stop leaks in the stationary components of your home (like a crack in your doorframe) and weather stripping to insulate the moving components (like windows and doors).

  1. Have your heating system checked

Home just doesn’t feel like home if a malfunctioning heater is leaving you with the chills. And in parts of the country with freezing temps, it can be a much more serious situation.

That’s why it’s wise to have a licensed contractor come out to inspect your heater at least once a year, especially before the weather outside becomes frightful.

  1. Prepare your pipes

Get to know where the pipelines in your house are located and make sure to inspect them every autumn (at least).

Simply patch any small leaks with heat tape to help reduce weaknesses that might cause the pipe to burst in freezing weather. And you can further protect any exposed outdoor pipes by insulating them with foam or rubber pipe wraps, which can be found at your local hardware store.

For larger leaks or pipeline problems, it’s always a good idea to play it safe and call the pros.

  1. Drain any outside faucets and irrigation systems

Speaking of bursting pipes, it’s important to pay attention to the water systems immediately outside your place too. Undrained water in outdoor faucets and irrigation systems can expand when frozen and cause a pipe to burst.

Draining faucets is simple enough: just pack away your garden hoses in the garage for the winter and let out any remaining water — easy as that!

Irrigation systems, on the other hand, often vary in the way they should be maintained. It’s best to call a professional who has experience with underground water systems, just to cover all your bases.

  1. Have your roof inspected

For your safety, a full-blown roof inspection should be done professionally. The cost to hire an inspector can be as low as a little over $200 and can prevent seriously hefty repair expenses down the line if a winter storm wreaks havoc on your roof and you don’t have sufficient insurance coverage to cover repair costs.

Reinforcing your roof now can help you avoid a whole host of hazards, like air and water leaks, water damage, mold, and more — all of which could put a damper on your seasonal festivities (and your wallet).

  1. Restock cold-weather home essentials

Key items like rock salt or kitty litter, snow shovels, space heaters, extra batteries, and heated blankets can help make your home both more functional and comfortable during wintertime. Stock up on these helpful winter wares ahead of time to help avoid any extra hassle or stress come holiday season.

  1. Peek at your homeowner’s insurance

Believe it or not, your homeowners policy could come to the rescue for a whole host of cold-weather mishaps.

Whether a hailstorm leaves holes in your roof, a vandal breaks into your home and destroys valuables while you’re out holiday shopping, or the weight of snow and ice results in structural damage to your house, homeowner’s insurance could help pay to repair or replace your losses.

How to Save on Heating Costs

11/7/2017 (Permalink)

Any season is a good season to save energy costs. With winter approaching, however, it’s even more critical as prices for home heating fuel are as volatile as ever.

The strategies below will help you save energy, save money, and stay comfortable during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the winter.

If you haven't already, conduct an energy audit to find out where you can save the most, and consider making a larger investment for long-term energy savings.

Also check out no-cost and low-cost tips to save energy during the spring and summer.

Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun

  • Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
  • Cover Drafty Windows
  • Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.
  • Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
  • Find out about other window treatments and coverings that can improve energy efficiency.
  • Adjust the Temperature
  • When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable.
  • When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. A smart or programmable thermostat can make it easy to set back your temperature. 
  • If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
  • Find and Seal Leaks
  • Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets.
  • Find out how to detect air leaks.
  • Learn more about air sealing new and existing homes.
  • Add caulk or weatherstripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
  • Find out how to select and apply the appropriate caulk and weatherstripping.Maintain Your Heating Systems
  • Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters: Clean the flue vent regularly and clean the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your home is heated efficiently. Find other maintenance recommendations for wood- and pellet-burning appliances.
  • Reduce Heat Loss from the Fireplace
  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning. Keeping the damper open is like keeping a window wide open during the winter; it allows warm air to go right up the chimney.
  • When you use the fireplace, reduce heat loss by opening dampers in the bottom of the firebox (if provided) or open the nearest window slightly--approximately 1 inch--and close doors leading into the room. Lower the thermostat setting to between 50° and 55°F.
  • If you never use your fireplace, plug and seal the chimney flue.
  • If you do use the fireplace, install tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warmed air back into the room.
  • Check the seal on the fireplace flue damper and make it as snug as possible.
  • Purchase grates made of C-shaped metal tubes to draw cool room air into the fireplace and circulate warm air back into the room.
  • Lower Your Water Heating Costs
  • Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands. Find other strategies for energy-efficient water heating.
  • Lower Your Holiday Lighting Costs
  • Use light-emitting diode -- or "LED" -- holiday light strings to reduce the cost of decorating your home for the winter holidays. Learn about the advantages and potential cost savings of LED holiday light strings. Find manufacturers and brands of ENERGY STAR® certified decorative light strings.
  • Source: https://energy.gov/energysaver/fall-and-winter-energy-saving-tips

Time To Fall Back!

10/30/2017 (Permalink)

DAYLIGHT SAVING TIME ENDS

Daylight Saving Time Ends is on the first Sunday in November at 2:00 AM.

Daylight saving time (DST) or summer time is the practice of advancing clocks during summer months so that people get up earlier in the morning and experience more daylight in the evening. Typically, users of DST adjust clocks forward one hour near the start of spring and change them backward in the autumn.

The practice has received both advocacy and criticism.  Putting clocks forward benefits retail business, sports, and other activities that exploit sunlight after working hours, but can cause problems for evening entertainment and other activities tied to the sun (such as farming) or darkness (such as fireworks shows).  Although some early proponents of DST aimed to reduce evening use of incandescent lighting (formerly a primary use of electricity, modern heating and cooling), usage patterns differ greatly, and research about how DST currently affects energy use is limited or contradictory.

Problems sometimes caused by DST clock shifts include: they complicate timekeeping, and can disrupt meetings, travel, billing, record keeping, medical devices, heavy equipment, and sleep patterns. Software can often adjust computer clocks automatically, but this can be limited and error-prone, particularly when various jurisdictions change the dates and timings of DST changes.

HOW TO OBSERVE

Make sure to turn back your clocks. Use #DaylightSavingTimeEnds or #FallBack to post on social media.

HISTORY

The New Zealander George Vernon Hudson proposed the modern idea of daylight saving in 1895.  Germany and Austria-Hungary organized the first implementation, starting on 30 April 1916. Many countries have used it at various times since then, particularly since the energy crisis of the 1970s.

source:https://nationaldaycalendar.com/daylight-saving-time-ends-first-sunday-in-november/