Recent Storm Damage Posts

Winter Storm Preparedness

10/11/2019 (Permalink)

Woman bundled up walking in blizzard along a sidewalk in town. Winter storms can be devastating and dangerous if the proper precautions aren't taken.

Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters. Learn what to do to keep your loved ones safe during blizzards and other winter storms!

Take immediate precautions if you hear these words on the news:

  1. Winter Storm WARNING: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours.

  2. Blizzard WARNING: Sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, plus considerable falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, expected to prevail for three hours or longer.

More winter storm words to listen for:
  • WIND CHILL Temperature: How cold people and animals feel when outside. As wind increases, heat is carried away from your body at a faster rate, driving down your body temperature and making you feel much colder. The wind chill temperature is not the actual temperature but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin.
  • Winter Storm OUTLOOK: Winter storm conditions possible in the next two to five days. Stay tuned to local media for updates.
  • Winter Storm WATCH: Winter storm conditions possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. Review your winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter Weather ADVISORY: Winter weather conditions expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous but not life-threatening if you are cautious.

Before

 

Prepare in Advance

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.
  • 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 clean up 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:
  • Protect pipes from freezing by keeping water dripping if temperatures reach below a certain level.
  • 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 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. 
Right before a blizzard / winter stormIf 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.
 

During

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.
 

After

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 situation, 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)

 

Recovering After a Winter Storm

Once you are physically safe, take time to ensure your family’s emotional and financial well-being.

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

Winter Storms Pose Frostbite Risk

10/11/2019 (Permalink)

Person in winter coat with gloves standing outside in a blizzard. Winter storms put people at a higher risk for developing frostbite and hypothermia.

Winter storms can get pretty intense and can be very dangerous if proper precautions aren't taken ahead of time. Freezing temperatures put people at risk for developing frostbite which if left untreated, can become deadly. So, what do you do if you or someone you know experiences what you think to be frostbite this winter?

What to do for frostbite:

1. Move the person to a warm place

2. Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area

3. Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100–105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm

4. Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings

5. If the person’s fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated

6. Avoid breaking any blisters

7. Do not allow the affected area to refreeze

8. 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

2. Gently move the person to a warm place

3. Monitor breathing and circulation

4. Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed

5. Remove any wet clothing and dry the person

6. 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).

We hope you never have to experience either frostbite or hypothermia this winter. However, if you do, we hope you are more prepared on how to handle the situation safely.

Fall Storms & How To Prepare

10/10/2019 (Permalink)

Lightening in the night sky on flat ground. An East Tennessee Storm Brings Lightening And Strong Wind To The Area.

Fall is in the air! You can literally feel it and breathe it in! You may have pumpkins, mums, and a variety of other decor out around your home to enjoy the season.

It's easy to love this time of year! Who doesn't like to sit around a fire, over-indulge on smores, and tackle as many craft fairs and festivals in one weekend as possible!? However, just because the weather has cooled off from the warmer months, this doesn't mean East Tennessee is exempt from nasty storms. As a homeowner, it's important to be aware and prepared for the potential storms ahead.

What do fall storms usually bring?

Late summer and fall are known as hurricane season. Coastal states take great measures this time of year to protect their homes from natural disasters derived from hurricanes and other tropical storms or depressions. While we don't live on the coast, we still face some of the wind and rain that are associated with storms that have hit the coast and moved inland. Some of these storms can be devastating with tornadic winds and heavy downpours.

During these storms and other seasonal storms that seem to pop up, you may face damage from the wind and also potential flooding. Simply being aware of the potential for damage is the first step to being on-top-of protecting your home this fall from storm damage. 

What can you do?

Now that you know to be aware of the potential for storms in the fall months, what can you do to be prepared? 

Yard Furniture 

If you have yard furniture or yard ornaments/decor, be sure you have somewhere to store them or that you have means to secure them to the ground when and if winds pick up this fall. By doing this, you can rest assured that your furniture won't go missing or be damaged by the storm's forces. You can also rest knowing that the furniture won't fly into or damage your home including your windows, siding, shingles, etc. 

Roof + Siding Inspection 

We all know that your roof is the main thing between your family and any storm that comes your way. It's important to make sure that your roof is in good condition leading into the fall and winter months to ensure that you won't be faced with unwanted water leaks. 

Your siding is just as important! Without good, secure siding, storms can rip sections off with heavy wind and rain and can cause rot and other interior damage to your home if water gets inside.

The safest thing to do is to evaluate these parts of your home yourself, and if you feel that a specific section or part needs a second, professional opinion, search out professionals in that industry to come out for an inspection. These are usually free and can be great in discovering and remedying a smaller problem before it turns into a larger one.

Whether you need repair or restoration to your home after a fall weather event, SERVPRO is here to help. We are mold remediation experts, as well. Call us if you have experienced water damage or fire damage.  

Preparing For Storms

9/4/2019 (Permalink)

lightening in the night sky A storm with lightening in East Tennessee.

Southeast Tennessee has seen some pretty severe storms tear through our counties in the last few years. Some storms have even developed into tornadoes and large hail events. What can you as a homeowner do to prepare your home’s exterior and yard for a nasty storm? Here are a few ways to do just that! 

Evaluate your landscaping. This is probably one of the most potentially dangerous parts of your yard when it comes to storms. Do you have trees surrounding your home? Do branches reach far enough over your home to be of concern? When heavy wind and rains hit, there’s always a chance that one of those trees or their limbs could come crashing into your home.  

It’s a great idea to have a professional tree trimming/cutting service come out to your home once a year to be sure everything is safe and sound and far enough away from your home in case a storm strikes. 

Trash. If you live in the city, you more than likely have some sort of trash pickup service. If you notice that the forecasters are predicting bad weather, avoid putting your trash can out ahead of time until the storm passes. 

Also, if you don’t live in the city and don’t have a trash removal service, you may have your trash stored in cans alongside your garage or somewhere around the perimeter of your home. Be sure that those items are secured as to avoid flying debris which could break windows, damage siding, and so much more. 

Secure your lawn furniture. If you don’t already have a place that you store lawn furniture when it’s not being used, it’s a good time to decide on where that location may be in the future. Light lawn furniture is easily picked up and thrown by even moderate winds. 

When you hear of storms coming your way, gather all pieces of your lawn furniture that aren’t secured to the ground and place them in your safe place until the weather clears up. 



Roofing. It’s always a great idea to check your roof before and after a large storm hits. After the storm is over and it’s safe to go back outside, inspect your roof as best you can. Check to be sure the gutters are still attached to your home and that no missing or damaged shingles appear. If missing pieces of your roof are left untouched, you could face even more damage later on from water leaks. 

Sheds. Backyard sheds are great for home storage. However, if they’re not properly secured during high winds, they can be thrown across your yard and hit your vehicles or even your home. 



We at SERVPRO are here to help pick up the pieces when the unthinkable happens to your family. The best thing you can do as a homeowner is to be proactive and vigilant when it comes to preparing for damaging storms. If you have water, fire, or storm damage, give us a call. 

A Quick Guide on How to Plan for an Emergency

5/7/2018 (Permalink)

SERVPRO Disaster Tips

Do you know how to actually protect yourself during an earthquake or hurricane? What about a tornado or fire? You've probably heard lots of conflicting information over the years. We hope you won't ever need it, this start-to-finish guide to handling disasters will help you remember what you should really do during an emergency and afterwards to recover as quickly as possible.

To break down the best practices to keep you alive in each type of disaster, we talked to Dr. Arthur Bradley, author of The Handbook to Practical Disaster Preparedness for the Family and Disaster Preparedness for EMP Attacks and Solar Storms. Here's what he had to say.

For Any Disaster: Make a Disaster Preparedness Plan

One common thread you'll see in almost every section below is that you'll need a disaster plan. You should be familiar with it before the disaster, and ready to act on it in case the unthinkable happens. We can tell you all about the best thing to do in the heat of the moment—and we will—but when the danger has passed, a disaster or emergency plan for your family or coworkers can be the difference between you meeting up in a secure location or being lost, unable to find one another.

  • Keep your family's most important documents, like birth certificates, passports, and social security cards in a safe place in case you need to grab them and leave the house. Create a home inventory and keep it with those documents. Make digital copies, and put them on a flash drive in the same place. A portable safe/fireproof box is a good idea.
  • Make sure you have a well-stocked go-bag that will keep you safe, warm, fed, and any medical needs you have taken care of for at least a few days. Include things like emergency food and water, an emergency radio, batteries, extras of any prescriptions you take, and even a charged cell phone just for 911 purposes. 
  • Make sure you and your family have a planned and practiced escape route from your home, and a place you all agree to meet up if something terrible happens. Whether it's a burglar or a fire, everyone in your home should know the fastest way out of the house safely. Escape ladders from high windows are good investments, but if you live in an apartment building or high-rise, memorize the fastest route to a stairwell. Finally, practice your escape route with your family so everyone's clear on it.
  • Make sure you're familiar with the emergency or disaster plan at your office. Your company should have evacuation routes from your workplace and meet-up locations outside of the building. If you don't know what they are, ask. If no one knows what they are, come up with them on your own. Ask yourself where the closest stairwell to your desk or work area is, and time yourself getting to it. Find out where the closest first-aid kit in the office is, in case you need it.

Gear and kits are great, and you should definitely have them on hand, but nothing replaces a good escape plan that you can quickly act on without thinking about it in case of an emergency. Many people die in accidents and natural disasters simply because they don't know what to do and find themselves waiting for someone to tell them. Plan accordingly.

Source: https://lifehacker.com/5976362/the-complete-guide-to-what-to-do-before-during-and-after-a-disaster

Clean Up Safely After a Disaster

3/26/2018 (Permalink)

Clean Up Safely After a Disaster
Take steps to protect yourself and your loved ones during your cleanup after a hurricane, flood, or other natural disaster. Follow our cleanup tips and monitor your radio or television for up-to-date emergency information.

General Safety Tips

Get the right safety gear

See full infographic

  • Hard hats
  • Goggles
  • N95 masks (or a respirator with a higher protection level)
  • Heavy work gloves
  • Waterproof boots with steel toe and insole (not just steel shank)
  • Earplugs or protective headphones (if you’re working with noisy equipment)
  • At least two fire extinguishers (each with a UL rating of at least 10A)

If sewage is involved, make sure to wear the following during your cleanup:

  • Rubber boots
  • Rubber gloves
  • Goggles

Use teams to move heavy/bulky objects

  • Have teams of at least two people work together to move heavy or bulky objects.
  • Avoid lifting any material that weighs more than 50 pounds (per person).

Pace yourself

Cleaning up your home can be a big job. Be sure to take care of yourself: 

  • Rest when you need to.
  • Decide which cleanup tasks are most important, and focus on those first. That way, you’re less likely to be overwhelmed.
  • Get help lifting heavy or bulky objects. If you lift too much on your own, you could hurt yourself.
  • Try to work with other people, so you aren’t alone.
  • Get support from family members, friends, counselors, or therapists.

Take precaution when using a chainsaw

  • When using a chain saw, always follow manufacturer’s instructions. Make sure to wear appropriate protective gear, and be sure that bystanders are a safe distance away.
  • Avoid contact with power lines, and take extra care in cutting trees or branches that are bent or caught under something else.
  • Use extreme caution to avoid electrical shock when using an electric chain saw.
  • For tips on safely operating a chain saw, see Preventing Chain Saw Injuries During Tree Removal After a Disaster.

Stay safe in hot weather

  • In hot weather, try to stay cool by staying in air-conditioned buildings, taking breaks in shaded areas or in cool rooms, drinking water and nonalcoholic fluids often, and wearing light and loose-fitting clothing.
  • Do outdoor activities during cooler hours.
  • For more information on protecting yourself against heat-related illness, see the CDC Extreme Heat Web site .

Mold

Prevent mold growth

See full infographic

  • Clean up and dry your home quickly after the storm or flood ends- within 24 to 48 hours if possible.
  • Air out your house by opening doors and windows. Use fans to dry wet areas. Position fans to blow air out doors or windows.
  • Throw away anything that you can’t clean or dry quickly (such as mattresses, carpeting, carpet padding, rugs, upholstered furniture, cosmetics, stuffed animals, baby toys, pillows, foam-rubber items, books, wall coverings, and paper products).
  • Remove and discard drywall and insulation that has been contaminated with sewage or flood waters.
  • Thoroughly clean all wet items and surfaces with hot water and laundry or dish detergent. For example, you’ll want to clean any flooring, concrete, molding, wood and metal furniture, countertops, appliances, sinks, and other plumbing fixtures.
  • Fix any leaks in roofs, walls, or plumbing as soon as you can.

Clean up mold with a mix of bleach and water

Hygiene & Preventing Diseases

See full infographic

Disinfect toys

Remember that anything that’s had contact with floodwater could carry germs. To keep your kids safe, make sure their toys are clean:

  • Make a cleaning fluid by mixing 1 cup of bleach in 5 gallons of water.
  • Wash off toys carefully with your cleaner.
  • Let the toys air dry.

You may not be able to kill germs on some toys — like stuffed animals and baby toys. Throw out toys you can’t clean.

Wash up with soap and water

  • Wash up with soap and water once you’re done cleaning.
  • If there is a boil-water advisory in effect:
    • Use water that has been boiled for 1 minute (allow the water to cool before washing); or
    • Use water that’s been disinfected for personal hygiene:
      • When using 5-6% unscented liquid household chlorine bleach – add a little less than 1/8 teaspoon (8 drops or about 0.5 milliliters) per 1 gallon of clear water. Stir well, and let it stand for 30 minutes before using. If the water is cloudy, add a little less than ¼ teaspoon (16 drops or about 1 milliliter) per 1 gallon of water.
      • When using 8.25% unscented liquid household chlorine bleach – add a little less than 1/8 teaspoon (6 drops or about 0.5 milliliters) per 1 gallon of clear water. Stir well, and let it stand for 30 minutes before using. If the water is cloudy, add 12 drops (or about 1 milliliter) per 1 gallon of water.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that were exposed to floodwater, wash them with soap and water and apply an antibiotic ointment to prevent an infection.
  • Seek immediate medical attention if you become injured or sick.
  • Wash all clothes worn during the cleanup in hot water and detergent. These clothes should be washed separately from uncontaminated clothes and linens.
  • For more tips on washing your hands, see Clean Hands Save Lives: Emergency Situations.

Be careful with floodwater- it can contain dangerous bacteria

  • Floodwater can contain dangerous bacteria from overflowing sewage and agricultural and industrial waste. While skin contact with floodwater doesn’t pose a serious health risk by itself, eating or drinking anything contaminated with floodwater can cause diseases.
  • If you have any open cuts or sores that will be exposed to floodwater, keep them as clean as possible by washing them with soap and applying an antibiotic ointment to discourage infection. (See also Clean Hands Save Lives: Emergency Situations)
  • To reduce cold–related risks when standing or working in water which is cooler than 75 degrees F (24 degrees C), wear insulated clothes and insulated rubber boots, take frequent breaks out of the water, and change into dry clothing when possible.
  • See also Food, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Information for Use Before and After a Disaster or Emergency and Reentering Your Flooded Home.

Potential Hazards

Be careful when entering damaged buildings

  • Stay away from any damaged buildings or structures until a building inspector or other government authority has had a chance to examine it and certify that it’s safe.
  • Wait until daylight to return to buildings so it’s easier to see and avoid any hazards- especially if the power is out.
  • Leave your home or other building if you hear any shifting or strange noises- this could mean it’s about to fall.
  • If you smell gas or suspect a leak, leave your house/building and contact emergency authorities right away! Don’t turn on the lights, light matches, smoke, or do anything that can cause a spark. Don’t return to the building until you’re told it’s safe to do so.
  • Keep children and pets away from the affected area until cleanup has been completed.

Prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

  • Never use generators, pressure washers, or other gasoline, propane, natural gas, or charcoal-burning devices inside your home, basement, garage, or camper—or even outside near an open window, door, or vent. Carbon monoxide—an odorless, colorless gas from these sources that can cause sudden illness and death—can build up indoors and poison the people and animals inside.
  • For more information, see Carbon Monoxide Poisoning After a Disaster.

Be aware of any electrical hazards

  • If electrical circuits and electrical equipment have gotten wet or are in or near water, turn off the power at the main breaker or fuse on the service panel. If you must enter standing water to access the main power switch, then call an electrician to turn it off.
  • Never turn power on or off or use an electric tool or appliance while standing in water.
  • Do not connect generators to your home’s electrical circuits without the approved, automatic-interrupt devices. If a generator is on line when electrical service is restored, it can become a major fire hazard and it may endanger line workers helping to restore power in your area.
  • For more information, see Protect Yourself and Others from Electrical Hazards After a Disaster.

Be careful with dangerous materials

  • Call the fire department to inspect or remove chemicals, propane tanks, and other dangerous materials.
  • Wear protective clothing and gear (for example, a respirator if needed) when handling hazardous materials.
  • Wash skin that may have come in contact with hazardous materials.
  • Wear insulated gloves and use caution if you have to remove a car battery. Avoid any acid that may have leaked from a car battery.
  • For information about possible dangers posed by chemicals, see the Chemical Emergencies page.
  • For information about possible dangers posed by pollution from large farms and agricultural facilities, see the CDC Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) website.

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/cleanup/facts.html

What To Do When A Tree Falls On Your Home

3/19/2018 (Permalink)

What To Do When A Tree Falls On Your Home

According to OSHA (the Occupational Safety and Health Administration), more people are killed by falling trees every year (100+) than are killed by sharks (about 4-7 per year).

Falling trees kill or injure more people than lightning. Although the numbers of tree fall fatalities are relatively low compared with other fatalities, the numbers for property damage from falling trees is much higher, ranging in the hundreds of thousands. According to the National Storm Damage Center, falling trees are the main causes of roof damage, costing more than $1 billion in property damage each year. So, chances are if you are a homeowner with lots of trees in your yard, you may encounter tree damage of some kind in your lifetime and in that situation, you will need to know what to do if a tree falls on your home:

  • If you’re in the house when a tree falls, leave the house and the property as soon as possible. Beware of downed electrical lines, and if you have gas lines, do not use your cell phone to call for help until you are away from the house. Use the safest route possible to get away from the house.
  • Call 911 or emergency services. They will send fire or appropriate responders to ensure the house is safe. If anyone has been injured or killed, let the dispatcher know this when you call. Remain at the scene unless you are injured. Seek medical care or wait for an ambulance if you have been injured.
  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible so they can agree to cover any emergency costs, removal or other details covered in your homeowner’s policy. If your tree has fallen on your neighbor’s property, your neighbor will need to make a claim on their insurance policy, but your insurance company should be aware of the damage as well.
  • Contact a roofing contractor, tree surgeon, tree removal company, builder or any other home professional to examine any damage, to remove the tree and secure the home so there is no additional damage to your property or possessions. Even if the tree misses the house, tree roots can extend under a property, causing damage to the foundation. So, have your builder or contractor check inside the house for cracks in the drywall, or the outside for cracks in the brickwork. Lowes’ experts say, “Don’t attempt to deal with the tree removal or roof repair yourself. Even if the fallen branches or tree seems small, you never know the extent of the storm damage or if the framework or structural integrity if your home has been compromised.”
  • If you are unable to live in the house during repairs, make sure any damaged areas are secured to prevent looting and theft. Put valuables in temporary storage, and board up broken windows, holes in the wall etc.

Once the tree has been dealt with, what steps can you take to ensure it doesn’t happen again?

Make sure your trees are healthy

Other than raking leaves, building treehouses, or picking up fallen branches, twigs and debris, most homeowners don’t think about their trees very often. Even fewer know the signs of an unhealthy, dying, or dead branch or tree. Here a few signs from RTEC Treecare, one of the companies that take care of the trees at the mall in Washington, DC to pay attention to:

  • Large branches attached with tight, V-shaped forks. These branches are prone to failure and may need to be lightened or removed.
  • Cracks in the trunk of the tree or in major limbs
  • Fungi growing from the base of your tree or under its canopy. This could be a sign of root decay.
  • Branches that are pointing/hanging downwards these damaged branches can easily fall during storms.
  • Partially attached limbs hung up in the high branches that could fall.
  • Large cavities in the tree trunk.
  • Wires in contact with tree branches.

Other things you can do to ensure you and your family are safe from tree falls:

  • Have an arborist inspect your trees every year, or whenever there’s been an injury or damage to a tree – such as a lightning strike, hit by a motor vehicle, or a pest infestation.
  • Do preventative pruning, and ask your neighbors to do the same. Preventative pruning reduces wind resistance and removes dead branches. This reduces the risk of the tree or the tree’s limbs snapping under the force of wind gusts.
  • Make sure your trees are mulched correctly if you mulch them. Mulch protects the root system of the tree and allows water and nutrients to drain down through the soil to the roots. This keeps the root system healthy which helps the tree stay strong during storms. Unhealthy root systems can lead to trees uprooting and snapping in heavy winds.
  • Wrap your young trees to prevent sunscald. Sunscald is winter damage that is commonly seen on young trees, newly planted trees, and thin-barked trees (cherry, crabapple, honey locust, linden, maple, mountain ash, plum). Sunscald causes the tree bark to dry and crack.

Legal issues regarding who pays for damages or home repairs etc. to your house from a falling tree in your yard, or from a neighbor’s yard, vary greatly from state-to-state, county to county and insurer to insurer. It’s best to talk to your insurance agent before anything happens to determine if you are covered in the event of a tree fall.

Source: https://www.homes.com/blog/2017/12/tree-falls-house/

Winter Storm Safety

12/11/2017 (Permalink)

Winter Storm Safety

Each year, hundreds of Americans are injured or killed by exposure to cold, vehicle accidents on wintry roads, and fires caused by the improper use of heaters. Learn what to do to keep your loved ones safe during blizzards and other winter storms!

Take immediate precautions if you hear these words on the news:

  1. Winter Storm WARNING: Life-threatening, severe winter conditions have begun or will begin within 24 hours.

  2. Blizzard WARNING: Sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles per hour or greater, plus considerable falling or blowing snow reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile, expected to prevail for three hours or longer.

More winter storm words to listen for:
  • WIND CHILL Temperature: How cold people and animals feel when outside. As wind increases, heat is carried away from your body at a faster rate, driving down your body temperature and making you feel much colder. The wind chill temperature is not the actual temperature but rather how wind and cold feel on exposed skin.
  • Winter Storm OUTLOOK: Winter storm conditions possible in the next two to five days. Stay tuned to local media for updates.
  • Winter Storm WATCH: Winter storm conditions possible within the next 36 to 48 hours. Review your winter storm plans and stay informed about weather conditions.
  • Winter Weather ADVISORY: Winter weather conditions expected to cause significant inconveniences and may be hazardous but not life-threatening if you are cautious.
 

Before

 

VIDEO: 3 Easy Steps to Prepare

 

Prepare in Advance

Be sure you’re Red Cross Ready. That means:

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 clean up 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 stormIf 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.
 

During

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 OutsideIf 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.
 

After

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 situation, 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

2. Handle the area gently; never rub the affected area

3. Warm gently by soaking the affected area in warm water (100–105 degrees F) until it appears red and feels warm

4. Loosely bandage the area with dry, sterile dressings

5. If the person’s fingers or toes are frostbitten, place dry, sterile gauze between them to keep them separated

6. Avoid breaking any blisters

7. Do not allow the affected area to refreeze

8. 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

2. Gently move the person to a warm place

3. Monitor breathing and circulation

4. Give rescue breathing and CPR if needed

5. Remove any wet clothing and dry the person

6. 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).
Recovering After a Winter Storm

Once you are physically safe, take time to ensure your family’s emotional and financial well-being.

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