As the U.S. experiences triple digit temperatures this week and wildfires continue to be prominent in the news, it is important to remember that winds can cause embers to travel more than a mile which can ignite a home.
An article on DisasterSafety.org has the following tips on reducing roof vulnerability during a wildfire. In reading them, keep in mind that following emergency instructions during a wildfire is crucial, but preventative measures are just as important.
Reducing Roof Vulnerability
Limit the amount of debris that accumulates at the intersections between vertical walls and roof:
- Regularly removing vegetative debris from the roof.
- Replace combustible siding with noncombustible (such as a fiber cement product) or ignition-resistant material (such as exterior rated, fire-retardant treated wood).
- Add metal flashing at the base of the wall to provides additional protection to the combustible siding.
- Regularly clean and remove debris from gutters.
- Consider gutter covers, which can minimize the accumulation of debris in gutters.
- Some gutter covers (for example, those that have a rounded design) can result in the accumulation of debris on the roof side of the cover.
- Do not expect gutter covers to eliminate the need for maintenance to remove debris.
- If a cover is used, flat covers that are parallel to the slope of the roof covering should minimize the accumulation of debris behind the cover.
- IBHS recommends the use of an integrated gutter (a combination of gutter and roof edge flashing) will help protect the fascia and roof sheathing.
- Block gaps between the tiles and roof deck on barrel tile roof coverings and other roof types.
- Use either manufacturer supplied materials or with a mortar or cement mixture.
- IBHS recommends the use of end-stopping products that minimize the accumulation of debris in the space between the roof deck and covering and the entry of embers during wildfire
As we are at the height of the Summer, many will be camping or traveling in an RV. This is a great way for families to see different parts of the country, but it is also important to make sure that your RV is safe.
Safecar.gov (a site by the U.S. Department of Transporation) is a great resource for RV owners as it provides any information on any safety-related recalls including vehicles, equipment, child restraints and tires.
To search recalls on this site, you can simply input your vehicle/equipment information to identify any outstanding recalls which can typically be satisfied by a local dealership, free of charge.
There are different types of recalls:
- Voluntary Recalls – Your RV or its equipment may fall under a voluntary recall. These are situations where the vehicle manufacturer becomes aware of a potential issue and is willing to correct it. Information related to voluntary recalls would need to be secured by the owner from their dealership or the RV manufacturer.
- Component Recalls – All RV manufacturers secure and incorporate a variety of component parts (tires, wheels, appliances, generators, etc.) into the finished RV. Often times these component parts become subject to recalls. You can quickly identify the existence of any recalls by typing in three words: Manufacturer, Product, Recall (ie. Norcold Refrigerator Recall).
In addition to your RV, be sure to search any outstanding recalls on your tow vehicle or vehicle you tow behind your motor home.
Enjoy the open road this summer but make sure your RV and your family is safe.
Photo credit: safehitch.com
The Summer means 4th of July, reunions and outdoor grilling. But, with all the merriment, it is important to be mindful of outdoor grill safety. The National Fire Protection Agency, Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Assocation and Consumer Product Safety Commission offer the following safety tips for outdoor grilling:
- Any grill should be placed well away from the home, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.
- Keep your grill on a flat, level and steady surface.
- When getting ready to use an LP gas grill, you should check your grill, turn on the LP tank valve and check for any signs of leaks. This can be done with a cup of soapy water poured over the valve and fittings.
- Check the tubes which lead to the burner units to be certain they have not become blocked or clogged. Insects, such as dirt-bobbers may build a nest in these areas and block the flow of LP gas to your grill. This can reduce the efficiency of the grill or render it totally useless. In some cases it may also result in a dangerous situation by allowing LP gas to leak out.
- Once all lines and valves have been checked for leaks or blockage, the grill is ready to ignite. Always have the lid to the grill open when you ignite the LP gas. If the lid is closed it is possible for excess gas to build up under the lid and ignite, causing an explosion. You should also never lean over the grill while igniting the gas. Any excess gas will also ignite and could result in facial burns. Stand away from the grill until the burners are ignited and burning normally.
LP gas cylinders are designed with your safety in mind. If used and stored properly these tanks can provide many years of safe and reliable service. If used or stored improperly they can present a very real danger to your home and family. Always keep the following warnings in mind when dealing with an LP gas cylinder:
- Never use a gas grill indoors
- When not in use, the LP cylinder should always be turned off
- Never store an LP cylinder inside your home
- When the LP cylinder is not connected to the grill the outlet valve should be plugged
- LP gas cylinders can only be filled to 80% of their capacity
- LP gas cylinders should be stored and used in an upright position
A charcoal grill is very different from an LP gas grill. When the gas grill is turned off the fire is extinguished and the area will cool somewhat rapidly. With a charcoal fire the coals may continue to burn for up to 48 hours. These coals can reach temperatures in excess of 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit and remain a fire hazard until completely extinguished. Always remember that you should:
- Never use a charcoal grill in your home – the charcoal gives off dangerous carbon dioxide gas which is deadly in confined spaces.
- Never add lighter fluid directly to hot coals
- Only use lighter fluid to light charcoal, never use gasoline or other substances.
- Keep charcoal fluid out of the reach of children and away from heat sources
- Do not close the lid of the grill until you are ready to begin cooking
- Be very careful when putting out a charcoal fire with water. The steam created when the water contacts the hot coals can cause severe burns.
- Do not leave the grill unattended – especially if other people such as playing children are in the area
- To put out a charcoal grill fire, place the cover on the grill, close the vents and allow the coals to burn out completely. Let the ashes cool for at least 48 hours and then dispose of them in a non-combustible container.
- If you must dispose of coals before they’ve completely cooled, remove them individually with long-handled tongs and carefully bury them in a can of sand or in a bucket of water. Never pour the hot coals into a pail of water, or viceversa. Steam from the briquettes may burn you.
And, as indicated by my previous post Ten Steps to Safely Deep Fry a Turkey, always make sure you follow the instructions of your grill or an outdoor fryer explicitly. So, enjoy your summer celebrations but be mindful of the tips of above so that you may keep yourself and your family and friends safe and happy.
Storms are causing heavy rain and flooding across the U.S. this week. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) offers recommendations in the infographic below for reducing damage in buildings from flooding.
The start of the summer has brought on severe storms across the U.S. and with storms usually comes lightning…
DisasterSafety.org has the following lighting safety tips regarding surge protection for your home:
1. Unplugging electronic equipment when there is lightning in the area is the most reliable means of protecting that equipment from a power surge.
2. Know the important difference between a surge suppressor and a power strip. A power strip plugs into your wall outlet and allows you to plug in multiple electronic devices. However, a power strip does not protect equipment from being damaged by a spike in electrical power. Like a power strip, a surge protector also gives the user the ability to plug in multiple electronic devices, but it also protects your electronic devices from sudden power spikes.
3. Connect telephone, cable/satellite TV and network lines to a surge suppressor.
4. Make sure the surge suppressor has an indicator light so you know it is working properly.
5. Ensure the surge suppressor has been tested to UL 1449, which should be indicated on the packaging.
6. Purchase a surge suppressor with a Joule rating of over 1,000. The Joule rating typically ranges from 200 up to several thousand – the higher the number the better.
7. Look for a surge suppressor with a clamping voltage rating (voltage at which the protector will conduct the electricity to ground) between 330 v, which is typical, to 400 v.
8. Purchase a surge suppressor with a response time of less than 1 nanosecond.
9. Avoid cutting corners. You don’t want to protect a $1,000 television or computer system with a $10 surge protector. For $25 and up, you can provide much better protection.
10. Consider hiring a licensed electrician or home/building inspector to review the power, telephone, electrical and cable/satellite TV connections in your home. Have them check that you have adequate grounding of the power line connection and your power distribution panel. All of the utilities should enter the structure within 10 feet of the electrical service entrance ground wire and be bonded to that grounding point.
Be sure to follow the above tips as they will protect your home and your belongings.
As parts of Texas experience unprecedented flooding the last two days, here are flood safety tips by DisasterSafety.org:
Flash Flood Safety
- Be aware that flash flooding is very dangerous and can move quickly. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
- Be aware of stream, drainage channels, canyons and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without typical warnings such as rain clouds or heavy rain.
- Do not walk through moving water. Six inches of moving water can make you fall. If you have to walk in water, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely. You and the vehicle can be swept away quickly. In fact, two feet of rushing water can carry away most vehicles including sport utility vehicles (SUV’s) and pick-ups.
- Do not camp or park your vehicle along streams, rivers or creeks, particularly during threatening conditions.
Flash Flood Watches and Warnings
Flash Flood Watch
If flash flooding is possible, be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio or television for information.
Flash Flood Warning
If a flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.
Please be sure to take all instructions by your local authorities seriously, and if they have ask you to evacuate, please do so. It could save your life and the life of your loved ones.
Photo Credit: Daniel Kramer, featured on HoustonPress.com
As families move outdoors to enjoy nice weather in Spring and Summer, special precautions should be taken to ensure outdoor areas are safe from potential hazards. Swimming pools, barbecue grills, gardening tools and fertilizers, and lawn toys all pose risks to children and adults alike. The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety gives the following backyard safety tips:
- Practice constant, adult supervision around any body of water, including pools and spas. Nationally, drowning is a leading cause of death to children under five.
- If you’re considering a swimming pool purchase, contact your local Building Department first to determine exactly what permits are needed and what requirements you must follow.
- In-ground and above-ground pools, including inflatable pools holding more than 24 inches of water, must be surrounded by a fence or other barrier at least four feet high. Any gates in the fence must be self-closing and self-latching.
- Reserve a spot on a wall or fence near the pool for lifesaving devices, including a portable or mobile telephone.
- Steps and ladders for above-ground pools should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use.
- Use a cover for the pool when it is not in use.
- Make sure drain covers are properly fitted and paired or have vacuum suction releases to prevent being trapped under water.
- Consider installing a pool alarm that can alert if someone enters the pool.
- Spa water temperatures should be set to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to avoid elevated body temperature, which could lead to drowsiness, unconsciousness, heat stroke, or death.
- Designate the grilling area as a “No Play Zone” and keep kids and pets well away until grill equipment is completely cool.
- Check propane cylinder hoses for leaks before use.
- Do not move hot grills.
- Never add charcoal starter fluid when coals or kindling have already been ignited, and never use any flammable or combustible liquid other than charcoal starter fluid to get the fire going.
- Don’t leave toys, tools and equipment in the yard.
- Keep steps, sidewalks and patios in good repair.
- Check all swings, slides, playhouses and other structures for sharp objects, rusty metal pieces, breaks or weakened support pieces.
- Learn CPR
Photo credit: house-designideas.com
As 26 residents were injured last night in Van, Texas due to a tornado, it is important to review the difference between a tornado watch and a tornado warning.
A tornado watch is issued when the weather conditions are favorable and there is a possibility of a tornado developing in your area in the next several hours. During a tornado watch, you need to be alert and prepared to go to safe shelter in case a tornado warning is issued. Stay close to a radio or TV and pay close attention to the weather reports.
During a tornado watch you should also:
- Review your emergency preparedness plan
- Make sure you have your disaster kit ready
Possible signs of a tornado to look for during a watch are:
- Dark greenish or orange-gray skies
- Large hail
- Large, dark, low-lying, rotating or funnel-shaped clouds
- A loud roar that is similar to a freight train
A tornado warning means that a tornado has actually been spotted in your area and is showing up on Doppler radar. This means you must take shelter immediately in a safe and sturdy structure. If there is a tornado warning you should:
- Get inside a secure building (not a mobile home) as soon as you can
- Get to the lowest floor, preferably a basement
- Get as close to the center of the room (and as far away from windows) as you can
- Try to get under a heavy table if possible
- Crouch low, facing down, and cover your head
And, as I have mentioned before, one of the most valuable tools is a weather radio. You need to know what is going on around you as weather changes rapidly and with little warning.
So as we all enjoy the Spring weather, know that tornado season is officially here and we all need to be aware and prepared.
It is that time of year again when the weather is getting warmer and flowers are starting to bud. As you enjoy being outside, remember there are a lot of things that need to be done to your home for both maintenance and safety. Freshhome.com has some great hints on preparing your home, both inside and out, for Spring cleaning like:
- Removing twigs from your gutters
- Cleaning fan blades and air filters to improve the air quality in your home
- And, how Spring cleaning may pay dividends in the long run
My suggestion for Spring cleaning is start with your windows. The sooner you can clean the screens, wipe the glass and let in the sunshine, the sooner you can take advantage of all the sites, smells and sounds of your neighborhood shaking off the cloak of winter because Spring cleaning can be psychological as much as physical.
This past week, hail storms struck areas of Texas and as we know, hail can cause severe property damage.
DisasterSafety.org gives some of the following information on preventing hail damage:
WHEN YOU REPLACE YOUR ROOF COVERING
If you are replacing your old, worn out roof covering with new asphalt shingles and you are concerned about hail damage, make sure they have a Class 4 rating under Underwriters Laboratories’ (UL) 2218 standard. A Class 4 rating tells you a sample of the product did not crack when hit twice in the same area by a two-inch steel ball. The UL 2218 standard is a useful method for testing impact resistance, but it isn’t perfect and works better for some roof coverings than for others. The UL standard measures whether a product cracks under impact. Some roof coverings, particularly some made of metal, may resist cracking, but can be dented and dimple. Nevertheless, post-storm investigations have shown that impact- rated products do in fact perform better in the real world than nonimpact-rated products. For rigid roof coverings, such as tile, an ice-ball impact test (FM 4473) has been developed. Some products have been test using that standard. While we [DisasterSafety.org] are not aware of any rigid products that have achieved a Class 4 rating with FM 4473, look for products with the highest possible rating using this standard.
TIPS FOR WHEN A HAILSTORM STRIKES
- If you are indoors when a storm with large hailstones strikes, stay there. Because large pieces of hail can shatter windows, close your drapes, blinds or window shades to prevent the wind from blowing broken glass inside.
- Stay away from skylights and doors.
- If you are outside, move immediately to a place of shelter.
So keep in mind that Spring and Summer storms and tornadoes can bring hail and being prepared can prevent property damage as well as bodily harm.