September is National Preparedness Month and as you know, a lesson learned from the year 2020, is that it pays to be prepared. The problem is many of us don’t know where to begin. We don’t know what disasters we might face. The solution? To the best of your ability, prepare for anything. It’s not as overwhelming as it sounds. The following tips will help you to prepare for an uncertain future that could possibly unfold.
First Things First
Before gathering supplies, etc., take out a pencil and paper (or open the computer) and write out a brief plan. Brainstorm what you might need in case of an emergency and build your list from that. For instance, assuming that your home could lose power, you will need flashlights, batteries and an alternative for preparing meals, such as an outdoor grill and charcoal bricks. Involve your family in the brainstorm session and compile your list. Don’t forget to include specific needs, like, prescription medications, etc. Build your plan according to the area in which you live. If, for example, your home is located in a flood zone, then include a plan of escape and set a specific meeting place and how you will communicate if family members are separated.
A waterproof case will secure prescription medications, but is also good for housing important documents like birth and marriage certificates, passports, home and car insurance, health insurance cards, written prescriptions and extra cash.
Have a first-aid kit ready to go. Keep the emergency first-aid kit separate from the one your family has access to everyday.
Planning for Specific Events/Disasters
Preparing before the water rises is crucial to survival. Even if your home is located in a flood-free zone, there’s no guarantee that your family won’t face flooding in an alternate location. Investigate the surrounding areas by contacting local authorities familiar with flood records, near where you live and when on vacation, too. This will help you to determine the best flood escape routes. Monitor local broadcasts and turn on weather alerts to your phone. Do not venture out once you and your family are safe and sound. There could be hazards lurking in water that’s receding, including live power lines.
If your home is located in a flood zone, be prepared with appropriate insurance and follow directions of governing bodies. When your family leaves the house for higher ground, turn off electricity or gas to the house beforehand. Don’t wait until a pending emergency to learn the location of shut off valves and how to shut them off. Ask a certified technician to walk you through the process, if you’re uncomfortable discovering it on your own.
Also, before leaving home, take pictures of your belongings in case the insurance company needs proof for claims. Finally, don’t forget the waterproof case.
Include in your emergency preparation, how to safely operate a generator. A generator comes in handy when a storm knocks out electrical power. Read the manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to connect power through a generator. To eliminate accidents, study operating instructions before a storm knocks out power. Permanent generators and the accompanying transfer switch must be installed by a licensed electrician. The transfer switch is critically important, as it prevents back feed, meaning, the distribution of electricity from the generator and into equipment that could harm a utility worker. It is crucial to read instructions before operating.
The primary concern to your family when using a generator, is protection from carbon monoxide poisoning. Deadly carbon monoxide gas can enter a home, if the generator is placed too close to an open window, door or other area where exhaust fumes may enter your home. Secure the generator away from the house in a well-ventilated outside area. Do not run the generator inside the house, a shed or garage. Before switching on the generator, unplug appliances and plug them back in only after the generator is running.
Always operate generators on a dry surface, to avoid electric shock and do not add fuel to a generator that is running or one that is still hot following operation. Generators are hot to the touch, and pose a serious burn threat. The area surrounding a portable generator isn’t safe for children and pets.
For optimum performance, appliances and home systems should receive regular maintenance. You’ve heard the old saying, “a stitch in time saves nine?” Well, the same is true when maintaining home systems. Waiting for a breakdown to occur before calling in a professional, is a bad idea. It could cost more money in the long run, to fix the problem, than to prevent it.
Schedule maintenance before you need it, to ensure that systems will work properly when you do. A professional, licensed technician will check your home systems. He or she can advise you on the condition of your HVAC and water heater, for instance, and can troubleshoot potential problems before they interrupt home living.
Hazardous materials can cause serious health issues. Materials deemed hazardous include: compressed and flammable gases and flammable liquids, radioactive substances, poisons and more.
If you discover any hazardous spills or potential hazardous material, alert the proper authorities, but do not touch hazardous materials under any circumstances. Contact the National Response Center of the Environmental Protection Agency to report spills or the release of any hazardous substance. Call 800-424-8802. You may also dial 9-1-1 to reach the local fire department.
Avoid Fire/Smoke Inhalation with Installed Smoke Detectors
According to the National Fire Protection Association, the risk of dying in a home fire is 54% less in homes with working fire alarms, compared to homes without alarms or with alarms that fail to work properly1. Install smoke alarms if your home doesn’t have them and check periodically to be sure they will work in the event of a house fire. The U.S. Fire Administration suggests that smoke detectors are checked at least once per month and replaced every ten years2. The date the unit was manufactured is located on its back. Read the manufacturer’s instructions for testing information and to determine the types of batteries to install in the unit.
Place an alarm in each bedroom, hallways and adjacent to sleeping areas. The best choice for protection are smoke alarms that are interconnected, when one is triggered they all sound an alarm.
As you prepare for the unforeseen, know that protection is at the core of NextEra Home. We care about your safety and offer home warranty plans that help protect your finances from the cost of failures of your home systems and appliances due to normal wear and tear. Call 833-634-6634 for more information.