Farmers Cares, by Paul Quinn

Getting Everything Ready for Spring

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.

Where to Go When a Tornado Strikes

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are predicted from Texas to Missouri this coming weekend and last week storms and tornadoes killed 2 people and injured many in the South.

The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) gives the following tips on where to go when a tornado strikes at home:

  • Remember: the more walls placed between you and the outside, the better.
  • If you do not have a safe room or a tornado shelter, identify the safest area of your home or business such as a basement or a small interior room without windows. Be sure you can easily access this area when a tornado threatens.
  • When a tornado threatens, head to the center-most part of your basement or home, away from windows and preferably under something sturdy like a workbench or staircase or in a bathtub with a mattress over top of you.
  • Don’t open your windows. This won’t save the house and may actually make things worse by giving wind and rain a greater chance of getting inside.
  • Close interior doors. This will help to compartmentalize the structure and provide more barriers between you and the storm.
  • Don’t try to ride out a tornado in a manufactured home. Even manufactured homes with tie-downs overturn in these storms because they have light frames and offer winds a large surface area to push against. Their exteriors are also vulnerable to high winds and wind-borne debris.

You can always reference my past posts such as Top Resources To Prepare for a Tornado and remember to please take warnings seriously as it could save your life.

Photo credit: CBS News

A Few Tips on How to Prepare for An Earthquake

For those of us who live in Southern California, the event of an earthquake is never a matter of “if,” but merely a matter of “when.” The earthquakes in the region these last few weeks reminds us that earthquakes are not like hurricanes or tornados, there is no season. There are a lot of things we can do to do prepare for them, but the time to do so is now.

The following are tips from the  Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Farmers Insurance website on how to prepare for an earthquake:

  • With no electricity, you’ll need batteries. A lot of them. Ensure you have flashlights and a portable radio accessible. The radio may be your only contact with the outside world for news and information.
  • Own a fire extinguisher to stop small fires and a pipe wrench to turn off broken gas lines. Gas leaks are extremely dangerous, so take the necessary precautions. Stay alert for gas fumes, have a wrench to turn off the gas in the event of a leak, open windows for ventilation and do not use flame materials such as matches, lighters, cigarettes and candles.
  • With no sewage lines, you’ll need plastic bags for garbage and human waste.
  • Assemble a first aid kit with extra prescription medications and keep in a safe place, away from children.
  • Get a gas shut off tool so that you can shut off the gas if you need to. Many home improvement stores have those in stock.
  • Have a family meeting and talk about your escape route and what to do if an earthquake strikes.
  • The phone lines will certainly be out or overloaded with life-and-death emergencies. Make sure your family also has an emergency communication plan.
  • Your local school should have a plan as well. Ask them about their earthquake plan.

So, plan and prepare for an earthquake so when the event does occur, it may be less traumatic for you and your loved ones.

Photo credit: A woman walks past a broken wall in Fullerton, Calif., a day after a magnitude 5.1 earthquake shook the area. Credit Ken Steinhardt/The Orange County Register, via Associated Press

 

 

Defending Your Property Against Wildfires

As drought and high winds are causing brush/wildfires across Southern California, it is important to remember my following post which discusses defending your property against wildfires.

Every year an estimated 5 million acres in the United States burns due to wildfires. There are measures you can take to defend your property against such fires. In doing so, remember that even the smallest detail can help to prevent the biggest loss.

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection gives guidelines and emphasizes the importance of a defensible space. A defensible space is defined as an area of clearance around a structure that provides a working environment for firefighters as well as minimizes the chance of a structure fire escaping to surrounding vegetation. In the state of California, a defensible space perimeter of 100 feet or more is recommended. The CFFP’s suggestion for creating this defensible space includes the following:

  • Remove all flammable vegetation around all structures
  • Trim trees so branches are six feet from the ground and 10 feet from your chimney
  • Remove branches overhanging your roof
  • Call your utility company for help with trees near power lines (never trim these yourself)
  • Remove any dead trees
  • Cut weeds and dead grasses six inches or shorter
  • Always work early in the morning and make sure your power tools have spark arresters to prevent equipment-caused fires
  • Ask your local nursery about landscaping with fire-resistant plants
  • Maintain defensible space by cleaning up plant litter and watering properly

The CFFP also provides a helpful instructional video explaining the concept of a defensible space.

If you are notified that a wildfire is near, and if time and your safety permit, clean out your gutters of all the dead leaves since they are highly flammable and right next to the roof. Also, close all your windows, draw heavy drapes and remove lighter draperies because they will burn quickly. Be sure to listen to your Fire and Police Departments. If you have been ordered to evacuate, follow their instructions.

While the East Coast battles thousands of acres being destroyed, we all hope that a wildfire does not ignite but in case one does and it comes close to your property, having a good defense may save it from costly destruction.

Freezing Weather Maintenance Checklist

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has released the above infographic called “Freezing Weather Maintenance Checklist.” Even though we we are well into March, regions of the U.S. are still experiencing unusually cold temperatures and homeowners must still be mindful of the damage freezing temperatures can cause to their home or property.

Flash Flood Safety

The heavy rains in California are bringing relief from drought, but at the same time, dangers of flooding and mudflow. DisasterSafety.org has an article on flood safety that gives the following tips:

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.

Winter Storm Hits Northeast: Driving Emergency Tips

The northeast is being slammed by Winter Storm Pax. If you have to drive, it is important to stay safe. The following are tips for a winter survival kit for your car and what to do if your car gets stranded. These tips are provided by Foremost Insurance Company, a member of the Farmers Insurance Group.

All drivers should carry a survival kit in their car that contains:

  • Cell phone
  • Blankets/sleeping bags
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Knife
  • High calorie, non-perishable food
  • A can and waterproof matches to melt snow for drinking water
  • Sand or non-clumping cat litter
  • Shovel
  • Windshield scraper
  • Tool kit
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables
  • Water container
  • Compass
  • Road maps
  • Extra winter clothes and boots

Also, try to keep the vehicle’s gas tank full in case the car gets stranded and to keep the fuel line from freezing. If the road is too snowy to see while driving:

  • Pull off the road and turn on the hazard lights.
  • Stay inside the vehicle. It is easy to become disoriented in the wind and snow. Do not set out on foot unless there is a building in sight where people can take shelter.
  • Run the motor about ten minutes each hour for heat.
  • Open the window a crack to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow.
  • Exercise frequently to keep blood circulating and to keep warm, but don’t overexert.
  • Huddle with other passengers and use coats or blankets to stay warm.
  • In extreme cold, use road maps, seat covers, floor mats, newspapers or extra clothing for covering — anything to provide additional insulation and warmth.
  • Be visible to rescuers by turning on the dome light at night (being careful to not wear down the battery), tying a distress flag (preferably red) to your antenna or window, and raising the hood to indicate trouble after snow stops falling.
  • If it is necessary to leave the vehicle and proceed on foot once the storm is over, follow the road if possible.
  • If it is necessary to walk across open country, use distant points as landmarks to help maintain a sense of direction.

With a little planning and know-how, it is possible to make this winter a safe and warm one for everyone.

The Chilling Numbers About Frozen Pipes

With the arctic temperatures and unusual weather hitting areas such as the South this winter, I had recently put up a post on How To Keep Your Pipes From Freezing.

The above graphic also gives some sobering statistics from the Institute for Business and Home Safety on how much damage frozen pipes can cause.

So, be mindful of your pipes, as it may prevent you time and money in the long run…

Farmers Insurance Open To Help Local Community

In the business world, it always feels good when corporate sponsorship means helping worthwhile causes. The Farmers Insurance Open is an event where we get to do a lot of good for the people of San Diego. Under our Farmers brand, which has been part of the Southern California landscape since 1928, our goal is to strengthen community outreach.


Farmers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines Golf Course

Farmers is entering its fifth year as the title sponsor and has extended its commitment into 2019. Since Farmers took over sponsorship in 2010, the Farmers Insurance Open has given back $7.7 million to charity and after the completion of this year’s event, that total should surpass $10 million. Through the combined effort with the Century Club of San Diego, Farmers will generate much-needed funds for over 200 charities. Some of the beneficiaries of this year’s Farmers Insurance Open are:

  • Birdies for Charity – The program utilizes the Farmers Insurance Open as a platform to benefit ten charitable organizations, and was first launched prior to the 2013 Farmers Insurance Open.
  • Blessings in a Backpack – Farmers is once again partnering with Blessings in a Backpack to help the students of Doris Miller Elementary School. This year marks the fourth year of Farmers providing meals for 500 students on the weekends during the school year. Blessings in a Backpack is a unique program designed to feed elementary school children whose families qualify for the federal free and reduced meal program and may not have any or enough food on the weekends.
  • The Monarch School – The Monarch School is a school for homeless youth in the San Diego area. The mission of the Monarch School is to educate these students and equip them with necessary skills and experiences for personal success. Students from the school were invited to Tuesday’s “Tee it Up for Kids” golf clinic hosted by Rickie Fowler and Charley Hoffman. The students will also receive grounds tickets to the 2014 Farmers Insurance Open.

Also this year, players and fans will see the new Farmers’ logo on our Mobile Claims Center buses as well as our signature 18th green skybox. Spectators will also get a chance to participate in our Thank a Million Teachers campaign that will be available on the course with iPads ready to personally share their “thanks” to the teacher that made a difference in their lives. As you can see, being the title sponsor of a PGA event is way more than just golf. It is about community participation and working toward a positive future, because we at Farmers care.

The Farmers Insurance Open is being held Thursday, January 23rd through Sunday, January 26th at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, California. Tune in Thursday and Friday on the Golf Channel and on CBS over the weekend.

Southern California Wildfire: Top Safety Tips

Authorities say up to 2,000 people have been evacuated due to a wildfire that has burned two homes and threatened neighborhoods in the dangerously dry foothills of Southern California’s San Gabriel Mountains. The Los Angeles County Fire Chief says the fire is being fanned by the gusty Santa Ana winds that is spitting embers into the city

Property owners in wildfire-prone areas should take precautions to reduce wildfire risks before it is too late. By spending a little time and effort now, you can significantly improve chances that your home or business will survive a wildfire.

Below are 5 Ways that you can prepare your property for wildfires and above is a  captioned, wildfire safety video produced by Farmers Insurance.

  1. Clear debris out of gutters and off the roof.
  2. Remove dead vegetation and relocate any combustible items – like stacked firewood and propane tanks – and trim shrubbery within 5 feet of your home. Next, consider vegetation and any combustible items located within 30 feet of the home or to the property line, and finally look at the area within 100 feet or to the property line. These areas may include your neighbors’ homes so try to work together.
  3. Make sure your vents are covered with 1/8-inch metal mesh screens and that the existing screens are clean.
  4. Seal any gaps around your garage door. Wind-blown embers could enter there during a wildfire.
  5. Clear away debris from decks, porches and patios, and then relocate any combustible items stored there.

You may also find additional guidance in the IBHS Wildfire Home Assessment & Checklist which helps homeowners better understand the relatively simple things they can do to make their home more resistant to wildfire. And, you may also read my previous roundup of wildfire safety tips.