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National Preparedness Month: Teach Your Children Flood Safety

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

Are you ready for National Preparedness Month?  Sponsored by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), September is the designated month each year to encourage readiness for potential natural disasters. The theme for 2019 is “Prepared, Not Scared.”  

In the U.S., floods typically kill about 100 persons every year, far exceeding the death toll caused by any other natural hazard including tornadoes and hurricanes. To make sure everyone in the family is aware of the potential danger, it’s important to include children when providing information on how to stay safe in the event of a flood. Here are some suggestions from FEMA and the American Red Cross.

  • Explain to kids that flash floods may happen very suddenly with little warning. Or, floods may develop more slowly, such as flooding associated with extended rainy periods or events such as rapidly melting snow.
  • It’s important to note that storms or heavy rain far away may cause streams and rivers nearby to overflow—even when it’s not raining close to home at the moment.
  • Children should avoid all contact with floodwater outdoors and indoors.  Emphasize that floodwater flowing outside may be strong enough to knock down a person and carry them away. Talk about the dangers of chemicals and germs present in floodwater that could make them sick, as well as poisonous snakes and other possible threats such as electrical shocks.
  • Encourage kids to remind parents and other adults not to drive through floodwater even when it appears shallow. “Turn around, don’t drown” is an easy-to-remember slogan for children to pass along to adults and keep the whole family safe.
  • Kids should be fully informed about the family plan in the event of a flood. They should know where the family will go to seek shelter and what each person in the family will do if a flood occurs. Children should also know the names and phone numbers of specified responsible adults to contact in the event of an emergency such as a flood if a parent isn’t available at the time.

Be Prepared For Flood Emergencies In Your Home

Thursday, May 2nd, 2019

Flooding presents the most frequent as well as costliest damage to homes in the U.S. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, no home can be considered totally immune to flood risk from some source—indoor or outdoor. So, every home can benefit from advance preparation. Even one inch of water inside a residence can cause significant damage. Because flooding often occurs without advance warning, the time to get ready for flood emergencies is now.

  • Check the flow of water outside during average rainfall. Does water flow toward the exterior wall and foundation of the house instead of away? In flood conditions, this can provide an entry point into the house. The landscape around the perimeter of the house should be graded so water drains away from the house and standing water does not accumulate, even in heavy rain. Also, maintain gutters and downspouts to ensure that roof runoff is properly collected and diverted at least three feet away from the house.
  • Do you live in an area with a naturally high water table? Rising groundwater may surge upward into the basement or crawl space during heavy rain or outdoor flooding. A sump pump with battery backup feature should be installed in the lowest point of the basement floor or inside the crawl space to automatically actuate and pump out intruding water.
  • Install a sewer backflow valve. If the municipal sewer system is swamped by floodwater, sewage may back up and enter the house through drains and toilets. Raw sewage is extremely toxic and requires extensive remediation to make the house safe to occupy. A backup valve installed in your sewage line prevents raw sewage from flowing backwards into the house.
  • Know how to turn off electricity safely. Indoor flooding can cause electrocution hazards. Know the location of your home’s main electrical panel and how to quickly shut off electricity before floodwater threatens. If the area near the electrical panel is already flooded or even wet, stay away. Call an electrician to shut off electricity at the meter.

Tornado Season Has Begun – Are You Prepared?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

In any given year, about 1,000 tornadoes can be expected to strike in the U.S., causing about 75 deaths and 1,500 injuries. In southern states, tornado season typically runs from March 1 through May; in northern states, it’s generally late spring through early summer. Tornadoes vary greatly in intensity and can cause potential home damage, but tornadoes and damages are very unpredictable.

A tornado watch issued by the National Weather Service means current weather conditions are ripe for a tornado. Monitor local radio, TV or an NOAA emergency radio for updates and be prepared to act if a tornado develops.

A tornado warning means a tornado has actually been sighted or appears on radar. This indicates imminent danger to life and property. Take immediate shelter in an interior room of the house on the lowest floor. If the house includes a basement, move all occupants and pets into the basement. Stay away from windows.

To be prepared for whatever may come in tornado season, here are some additional things to keep in mind:

  • If your local municipality utilizes tornado warning sirens, familiarize yourself with the sound and what it signifies.
  • Keep first aid kits well-stocked and fire extinguishers on hand. Know the location of these items.
  • Know how to shut off the main water valve to the house to prevent flooding in the event of pipe ruptures.
  • Become informed about emergency procedures at your children’s school in the event of a tornado.
  • Mobile homes are inherently dangerous in a tornado. Many mobile home parks therefore have community shelters. Know if your park has a shelter, where it is, and how to quickly access it.
  • Continue to monitor local radio, TV or an NOAA emergency radio after the tornado passes for information about current conditions that could trigger a second tornado.
  • When you venture outside after a tornado, be aware of hazards posed by downed power lines and broken gas mains.

A Decluttered Home Is More Prepared for Emergencies

Thursday, February 21st, 2019

Excessive clutter inside a home is not simply a housekeeping issue, it’s also a major disadvantage in certain emergency scenarios. Everyone knows how surplus “stuff” tends to accumulate over a period of time.  Though it’s almost always a routine annoyance, during a household crisis, clutter can make a bad situation far worse. Here are a few examples of how clutter complicates emergencies and makes recovery and repair more difficult:

Fire Hazards

When a house is disarrayed and over-filled with stored items, adding fire to the picture is the setting for potential disaster. Clutter often blocks normal routes of escape through doors, windows or other rooms. It may also conceal a fire in its early stages, delaying the call for help and increasing the potential for injury or death. First responders to the fire may find it difficult to access parts of the home to rescue residents as well as get water where it is needed to extinguish flames.

Water Damage

A plumbing emergency such as a ruptured pipe may be hidden by boxes or stacks of possessions in a cluttered home. Water damage may therefore be far advanced by the time occupants realize there’s a problem and the origin of the water may be hard to track down. Stored items may themselves become saturated, heavy and unstable, greatly complicating the extraction of water from the house for water damage remediation crews.

Mold Growth

Clutter can also be a point of origin for toxic mold growth, which can pose a long-term health threat. Mold can be difficult to pinpoint and identify in interior disarray. It feeds on organic material including cardboard and paper, then releases airborne spores that spread throughout the house. The lack of proper air circulation in a cluttered room stacked with possessions also supports the growth of mold that thrives in a musty, stale environment.

Physical Hazards

Items arranged haphazardly in the house can make trip and fall injuries more likely, particularly when attempting to quickly evacuate a house during an emergency. Also stacks of heavy items may be unstable and collapse.

What Should Be in an Emergency Bag for Hurricanes or Flood Conditions?

Wednesday, February 6th, 2019

According to the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), emergency evacuations are more common than many people suspect. The largest in U.S. history occurred in 1999, when 3 million residents on the Atlantic coast left their homes as Hurricane Floyd approached. However, in addition to hurricanes, tornadoes, flash floods, wildfires, toxic spills, prolonged power outages and even severe frigid weather are among the unexpected events that may trigger a local evacuation order.

“Be Prepared” is the general advice for homeowners, but what about specifics? One common recommendation is to keep an evacuation bag ready at all times. It’s often called a “Go Bag” by emergency authorities, because that’s exactly what it’s for: If the need to quickly evacuate your home ever occurs, you’re already prepared to go in a hurry.

For a fully-stocked “Go Bag”, you’ll need a sturdy duffel bag or large knapsack. Don’t rely on plastic trash bags or other last-minute temporary substitutes. Keep a permanent, fully-stocked bag on hand and make sure every adult occupant in the house knows where it is stored. Here are some recommended contents of your “Go Bag.”

  • Three-day supply of non-perishable food and water for each occupant. Don’t count on shelters or other alternate destinations to provide food.
  • Local road maps with evacuation routes clearly marked.
  • Prescription medications for anyone who requires them as well as over-the-counter remedies such as aspirin.
  • Change of clothing for a few days per each person.
  • Extra car keys, credit cards and cash.
  • First aid kit.
  • Flashlights.
  • Battery-powered radio with extra batteries.
  • Personal sanitation items.
  • Photocopies of vital documents like birth certificates and passports, medical and home insurance policies, as well as relevant contact info for your insurance agent.
  • Backup of important files on home computer on portable flash drive.
  • If you have pets, include food and water for them, too.
  • Cellphone and laptop charger.

If dangerous weather conditions or other hazards loom, monitor local media for announcements by emergency agencies. Evacuate your home promptly if/when you are advised to do so. Don’t delay, waiting and hoping that conditions may improve. Grab the Go Bag and go.

6 Types of Crucial Documents to Store Safely In Case of Emergency

Tuesday, November 6th, 2018

important documents for storageAmong the most important items people want to protect from a disaster like fire, flood, hurricane or other extreme weather are vital personal/family documents. There’s a very good reason – in the wake of a genuine disaster, you’ll probably be needing at least some of them, ASAP. Unfortunately, paper documents are among the items most vulnerable to water damage, fire and other destruction during catastrophes.

Experts tell us that one extra copy of vital documents should be stored outside of your home in a secure location like a bank safety deposit box. Another alternative is to scan all important papers to a flash drive or DVD, then send it to a trusted relative residing in a different locale for safe keeping. Remember to update stored copies if/when any changes are made.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) suggests making copies and arranging safe off-site storage for the following important documents

Vital Personal Records
These include photocopies of personal identification such as drivers licenses, birth certificates, and Military I.D. cards, if applicable. Social Security cards, passports and marriage licenses should also be copied.

Insurance Policies
Keep copies of your homeowners insurance and flood insurance policy. Also include health and life insurance coverage information as well as contact information for your local agent.

Financial Information
Record relevant account numbers for all financial matters. Include bank contact information as well as investment firms such as brokerages, retirement accounts and credit card companies.

Property Records
Copy the deed to your home or the mortgage documents provided by the title company. These should state the value of the house at the time of purchase. If you are a renter, retain a copy of the lease or rental agreement. Also duplicate all automobile, boat and RV titles and registration papers.

Medical Information
Make copies of all ongoing prescriptions plus records of immunizations, health insurance I.D. cards, and names and contact information for primary physicians. If you have a living will, include that as well.

Estate Documents
Include a copy of your will, instructions for funeral, documents for power-of-attorney designation and contact information for your personal attorney.

What To Do In A Flood – A Checklist For Your Emergency Kit!

Thursday, August 24th, 2017

emeergency kitKnowing what to do in a flood is vital information wherever you live. Floods are the number one natural disaster in the U.S. Yet, fully 25% of flood insurance claims originate outside areas officially designated as high-risk zones on flood maps. Moreover, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), no-risk zones don’t exist: Some flood potential is always present, no matter where you may live.

Professional advice for what to do in a flood stresses advance preparation. Flooding is frequently not a predictable phenomenon that offers extensive early warning to get ready. Assembling an emergency kit now, before a crisis looms, ensures you’ll be prepared when the time comes and ready to focus on other important matters. Here’s a checklist of things to include in a flood emergency kit.

  • Three-day supply of water and food. Figure one gallon of water per person per day. Food should be non-perishable suitable for long storage. Remember never to use charcoal as a cooking fuel inside the house due to danger of deadly carbon monoxide fumes emitted by burning charcoal.
  • Disposable plates and cups as well as eating utensils.
  • A radio that can be powered by hand crank. Models that also incorporate a flashlight and cell phone charger are particularly useful.
  • Flashlights (one for each person) and extra batteries. Check the expiration date on the batteries and replace them in storage when they expire.
  • A first-aid kit appropriate to the number of persons in the household and any special needs such as specific medications. Also include implements like tweezers and scissors.
  • Personal hygiene items such as toothbrushes and tooth paste, toilet papers and towelettes.
  • Matches in a sealed waterproof packet.
  • Coins and cash in smaller denominations. ATMs may be non-functional following a flood and merchants may also be unable to take larger bills. Also have photocopies of ID cards for every adult in the house.
  • Extra house keys. Sleeping accommodations such as sleeping bags and/or blankets appropriate to local weather.

For more advice about what to do in a flood as well as professional recovery services in the aftermath, contact Rytech, Inc.


Staying Safe: Precautions to Take When There is a Flash Flood Warning

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Every year, basic flash flood safety tips turn out to be good advice for millions of Americans. Flash floods are considered a coast-to-coast threat because they may result from a variety of triggering events. The most common cause of flash flooding is extreme amounts of rainfall or snow melt occurring faster than the soil can absorb the water. A flash flood can take place within minutes or up to several hours after a triggering event. It’s important to note that flash floods may affect dry areas distant from the area where the heavy rain actually fell.

A flash flood watch issued by the National Weather Service is a notification to stay alert because conditions that may result in flooding are possible. A flash flood warning, however, means floodingflash flood safety tips is imminent or already occurring. It’s an urgent message to take immediate action to preserve life. If the National Weather Service issues a flash flood warning, here are a few flash flood safety tips to keep in mind:

  • If you are advised to evacuate, act fast to move to higher ground. Lock your house and go. Once a warning has been issued, you may have only a very short time to reach safety.
  • The safest action is to go to the nearest higher ground on foot. If you must drive your vehicle, don’t attempt to drive through flooded areas. The majority of flash flood deaths in the U.S. occur inside vehicles swept away by high water. If your car should be swamped by flood water, abandon the vehicle at once and get to higher ground on foot.
  • Don’t walk or wade into moving water. Flowing water only six inches deep has enough velocity to knock you down.
  • Avoid any casual contact with standing water. Flood water may be extremely toxic due to raw sewage or chemicals that have been picked up along the path of flooding.
  • If the potential for threatening weather exists, don’t camp or park near streams or dry washes.

For more flash flood safety tips, ask the professionals at Rytech, Inc.

Before a Flood, Create an Online Inventory of Valuables

Friday, June 5th, 2015

Before a Flood, Create an Online Inventory of Valuables

Source: Shutterstock

Effective emergency preparedness means being ready to recover as fully as possible from disaster, as soon as possible. Water damage and loss of possessions is an inevitable consequence of flooding. To efficiently and promptly assess your possessions—and ensure insurance compensation for those that cannot be salvaged—create a personal inventory of important items in your household. Emergency preparedness pays off before and after a damaging flood by providing an organized database to properly evaluate and insure possessions, as well as the documentation necessary to file for accurate compensation if/when disaster strikes.

  • Make it digital. Keeping an electronic inventory allows for safer offsite storage in multiple places. A number of apps simplify inventory and make the result more intuitive as well as easy to access. The Know Your Stuff app, available in IOS and Android formats, organizes the process and allows you to easily update the inventory as new possessions are added to the household. In addition, Know Your Stuff provides secure online storage you can access from anywhere via your smartphone, computer, or tablet.
  • Take photos. They are indeed worth a thousand words and save many inventory hours, too. Take wide photos of individual rooms, then narrow to closer views of contents of storage closets and drawers.
  • Make a video. A walk-through of your whole house is most efficiently documented and stored by video. Narrate the video as you tour the home, noting the location of individual possessions as well as a brief description.
  • Store it securely. Make backups of digital records, even those stored in the cloud. Copy paper records and video tapes, too. Arrange to store an extra set of hard copies in a separate offsite location like a safe deposit box or a relative’s home.

Contact Rytech, Inc. for more about effective emergency preparedness for flood damage.