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First Steps After a Hurricane Passes Through…

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

hurricane damaged homeAs Hurricane Michael approached the Florida Panhandle in October of 2018, voluntary or mandatory evacuation orders were issued for 22 counties in the storm’s path. During this typical hurricane scenario, millions packed up and took refuge in a safer locale. After the storm passed, these same people returned to face uncertain conditions and put their lives back together again.

If you find yourself among those advised to leave, authorities urge you to observe all directives and evacuate to recommended safe regions, ASAP. When you return, here are some basic safety tips to follow:

Don’t Go Home …

… until local authorities have issued an All Clear to return. Accompanying dangers such as flooding and unsafe road conditions may still exist. Be patient, hunker down and wait until you get the official word.

Inspect Before Entering

Look through windows to assess the interior of the house for unsafe conditions such as indoor flooding, structural collapse and other threats. Before going in, don appropriate safety clothing such as gloves, goggles and a breathing mask.

Beware Of Electrical Hazards

Do not enter a flooded house if electrical power is still live or if you are in doubt whether it is or not. Don’t attempt to reach the electrical panel yourself to turn off power if it is in a flooded part of the house. Discontinue attempts to enter the house until a professional electrician has turned off power.

Use Your Nose

Be alert for the pungent odor of leaking natural gas. Leave the house immediately if you smell it and call the gas company or a plumber. Also, if you smell raw sewage odors, do not step into standing water. Wear protective clothing and eye/breathing protection.

Call Your Insurer

Most insurance companies process claims on a first come–first served basis. Officially report damage as soon as it is possible to do so. Action to remediate hurricane water damage and accompanying mold contamination should begin within 48 hours of your return, if possible.

Document The Damage

Before attempting salvage or clean-up work yourself, take extensive photographs of all damage to the premises as it exists now.

Common Fall Home Water Issues and How to Handle Them

Thursday, September 13th, 2018

autumn weatherFall is a transitional time of year, which means water damage issues are also in flux. While the snow and ice of winter are still some ways off, the shift from summer heat to cooler autumn weather presents certain seasonal conditions that may impact your home and possessions. Here are some tips to prevent potential water damage.

  • Clean the gutters. Autumn leaves clog gutters and downspouts. When substantial rainfall occurs, gutters overflow and spill water down exterior walls, penetrating siding and infiltrating wall cavities. Indoor water damage and mold growth result. Due to safety issues, gutters should always be cleaned from a sturdy ladder, not by standing up on the roof. Hire a professional if you’re not comfortable working from a ladder.
  • Check the air conditioner condensate drain. Before putting the A/C to sleep for the winter, take a look inside the condensate drain pan located underneath the indoor air handler. It’s normal for it to be wet, but you should not see standing water that indicates a clogged or sluggish condensate drain line. Stagnant water inside the pan can become a source of toxic mold contamination during the off-season. Clearing a clogged condensate drain requires the services of a qualified HVAC service technician.
  • In many coastal areas, fall is hurricane season. Take advance steps to safeguard your home against water damage from severe storms or hurricanes that may occur in fall. Have the roof inspected for loose or deteriorated shingles or other signs of incipient leakage. Cut back any limbs or trees that could fall in high winds and damage the roof or walls. To prevent water intrusion in storm conditions, use caulking or spray foam insulation to seal any openings in exterior walls such as points where conduits or pipes enter the house, garden hose bibs and around vents.
  • Prepare the sprinkler system. Before the first freeze strikes, follow the manufacturer’s procedure to winterize your underground sprinklers. An underground rupture due to freezing in the main line or the shutoff valve connected to household water could affect the house foundation and/or cause basement flooding.

It’s Hurricane Season – Simple Steps To Protect Your Home And Belongings

Thursday, October 12th, 2017

Many people wonder if the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning allows enough time to make comprehensive efforts to prevent storm damage to your property. It doesn’t. Most experts agree that, by the time a hurricane watch is issued, it’s probably already too late to begin the kind of substantial home alterations needed to protect against wind and water damage should a full-blown hurricane strike.

If you live in an area where storms may strike, therefore, don’t wait for hurricane season to make meaningful preparations to your property. Once a watch is issued, a few very simple steps can still be taken, however. Here’s the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning:

Hurricane Watch
Usually issued 48 hours in advance of a possible storm, a watch advises residents that conditions are very favorable for hurricane formation. Announcement of a watch means to make final simple preparations to secure your home and belongings.

  • Install storm windows you should already have on hand or plywood pre-cut to size and drilled to fit windows.
  • Put away loose outdoor items such as lawn furniture that could be blown by high winds.
  • Cut down large limbs that might break and impact the house.
  • Make plans to take action such as gathering family members and reviewing your evacuation plan and route.

Hurricane Warning
This means a hurricane is likely to make landfall in your area. A hurricane warning will be issued 36 hours before probable arrival of the storm. However, rapidly changing conditions may shorten that time frame. Once a warning is in effect, discontinue final efforts to secure property or belongings. The remaining hours should be spent ensuring physical safety of occupants and preparing for evacuation. Radio, TV and other media should be continuously monitored for evacuation information. If advised to evacuate the area, be prepared to act immediately without delay.

To minimize property losses from a hurricane, be prepared well in advance and know the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning.


Hurricane Season Is Coming – Protect Your Home From Flooding!

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

flooded houseTo protect your home from flooding during hurricane season, you need to begin now. Hurricanes pose a double-whammy of water damage risk. Extremely heavy rainfall for a prolonged period is often associated with hurricanes, particularly as the storm front tends to stall after it makes landfall. The other, more devastating potential is a storm surge. This fast-rising “instant flood” driven by high winds pushes a wall of ocean water as far as 10 miles or more inland.

Most experts agree: By the time a hurricane watch is officially issued, it’s already too late to begin meaningful preparations to protect your home from flooding. While there’s still time, here are some suggestions to reduce the risks now:

  • Landscape accordingly. The contour of your landscaping should divert flood water away from the home on all sides. Also, soil type matters. Porous ground allows water to soak in before it inundates your home versus clay-like soil that resists absorption.
  • Get a sump pump. Hydrostatic pressure from deep water in a flooded basement can destroy the foundation. A sump pump with back-up battery power (assume that utility power will be interrupted) can remove water as it arrives, preventing major damage.
  • Install sewage backflow prevention valves. When the municipal sewage system is swamped during a hurricane, sewage often flows backwards, flooding houses connected to the system. A backflow valve releases reflux into your yard, preventing interior flooding.
  • Protect major entry points. Install storm windows or have 3/4-inch plywood already cut to size and pre-drilled to cover all windows. Also, get a hurricane-resistant garage door. A blown-out garage door can give heavy, wind-blown rain access to the interior of your home and expedite flooding.
  • Elevate critical systems. In hurricane risk zones, the main electrical panel, HVAC systems and water heater should not be in a basement. Relocate to an upper floor to prevent damage.
  • Add flood vents. Automatic flood vents allow moving floodwater to freely flow into and out of the crawl space under the house, reducing damaging pressure against the structure.

For more about effective measures to protect your home from flooding, contact Rytech, Inc.

How To Protect Your Home From Hurricane Damage

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

shuttering windowsThere’s no good reason for lack of hurricane home preparation. Unlike other natural disasters like earthquakes or tornadoes, hurricanes are slow moving, can be tracked over an extended period, and warnings are issued well in advance. However, certain aspects of hurricane home preparation should be made long before a hurricane even develops. Other measures are appropriate once announcement of a hurricane watch indicates the potential for a storm.

What To Do Now

  • Hurricane straps should be added to a home by a qualified installer to tie the roof structure to supporting walls.
  • Standard flimsy garage doors should be upgraded to hurricane-proof models that can stand up to at least 130 mph, as well as resist storm-related flooding.
  • Install permanent hurricane shutters or the fittings for removable shutters that can be quickly mounted if danger threatens.
  • If you don’t have hurricane shutters, have 5/8-inch sheets of plywood pre-cut to fit major windows and pre-drilled for screws to make installation quick. Store these for use when necessary.
  • Remove trees that are weak and likely to fall in high winds.

What To Do When There Is A Threat

If a hurricane watch is announced, you have some time—usually a day or two—to make final preparations.

  • Install hurricane shutters or cover windows with pre-cut plywood.
  • Take lawn furniture and other large, loose objects inside or secure tightly. They could become damaging flying objects in high winds.
  • Make sure gutters are unobstructed to properly discharge roof runoff during very heavy rain.
  • Cut back large limbs that could fracture in high wind and damage the house.
  • Review location of main gas and water shutoff valves so you can turn them off if you evacuate.

What To Do When A Hurricane Approaches

If a hurricane warning is announced, discontinue further efforts to prevent property damage. Focus your attention on safety of the occupants of the house. Monitor emergency broadcasts and stay prepared to evacuate if you are ordered to by authorities, or if you feel it is necessary to protect your family.


Protecting Your Home From Storm Surges

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2017

storm surgeWhen a hurricane or tropical storm strikes, storm surges accompanying it may be the most damaging event when it comes to property loss. The term refers to a combination of wind and surging floodwater that sweeps across a coastland area, usually at the height of a storm. Typically, a surge comes ashore at the same speed as the storm, usually about 10 to 15 mph. A cubic yard of sea water weighs over 1,700 pounds, so water that is only a foot or two deep moving at that speed can cause substantial structural damage when combined with high winds. Here are some ways to protect your home and possessions from the wind and water damage associated with storm surges:

  • Check your risk. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) provides online flood zone maps to rate your local risk of a storm surge.
  • Protect windows and doors. Get removable storm shutters and install the attachments now so they can be mounted quickly when a storm threatens. Surge-proof exterior doors and door mountings that resist the force of moving water are also worthwhile.
  • Remove flying objects. The landscape immediately surrounding the house should be kept clear of limbs, weak trees, outdoor furniture, storage sheds and other objects that may dislodge in a storm surge and batter the house, increasing damage.
  • Reinforce the roof. Hurricane-force wind gets under the roof and lifts it up off the walls, then takes the roof away. Hurricane tie-down straps that secure the roof to the wall structure oppose the force of upward lift and keep the roof on the house.
  • Get a storm-proof garage door. Standard non-reinforced garage doors are a major weak spot that will give way and allow high wind and surging water into your house. Storm-proof doors have extra bracing for greater strength.
  • Protect the crawl space and basement. Install a sump pump with battery backup to remove inundating storm water.

For more advice about protection before and after storm surges, contact the water damage pros at Rytech, Inc.

What’s the Difference Between a Hurricane Watch and a Hurricane Warning?

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

difference between a hurricane watch and hurricane warningKnowing the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning helps you draw the line between important preparation to secure property against storm damage and more urgent steps to ensure the safety of human life. Thanks to modern satellite technology, the arrival of a hurricane on a coastal area is no longer a matter of surprise. Landfall can be accurately timed, and emergency information issued to the public by the Hurricane Center at the National Weather Service reflects that fact. It’s important to know how this information impacts you and your family. Here’s how the difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning affects your decisions about what to do next.

Hurricane Watch

When possible, a hurricane watch is usually issued 48 hours in advance of the predicted hour that winds are likely to reach tropical storm force. Announcement of a watch indicates that weather conditions are favorable for the formation of a hurricane that may affect the area under the watch. A watch is, first and foremost, a heads-up to pay attention. Begin monitoring local news outlets and/or a NOAA Weather Radio, if you have one. Take reasonable steps to secure your home from damage and stay abreast of evolving conditions. Begin discussing an action plan with your family for evacuation if reports indicate conditions are deteriorating.

Hurricane Warning

Generally, a National Weather Service hurricane warning is issued when data indicates that a hurricane will strike the affected area in 36 hours. A hurricane warning means action is required to preserve life. Any further efforts at preparing your home and property should be rapidly concluded and all attention focused on the physical safety of you and your family. Make immediate plans to evacuate the area included in the hurricane warning and move to safety, if instructed to do so. Consult emergency TV and radio broadcasts for information from the local emergency management agency about safe areas to move to and recommended evacuation routes. Ask the professionals at Rytech for more information about the important difference between a hurricane watch and a hurricane warning.

It’s Hurricane Season — Understand the Potential Repercussions From These Storms

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

Hurricane sesasonRecent storms like Hurricane Katrina have underscored the fact that repercussions from hurricanes can be extreme. Often, one or more storms that prove to be less powerful than predicted can instill a false sense of security in many residents, causing them to be unprepared for the effects of a fully formed hurricane if it does strike. Katrina proved that when certain elements coincide, the repercussions from hurricanes may exceed predictions. (more…)