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Avoid Hazards & Fires in your California Home

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

From overly hot faucets to tipped-over coffee cups, burns are a potential hazard in every home. In fact, burns (especially scalds from hot water and liquids) are some of the most common childhood accidents. Babies and young children are especially at risk — they're curious, small, and have sensitive skin that needs extra protection.

Here are some important ways to protect kids from burns — as well as electrical shocks and household fires — in your home.

In General

Make a fire escape plan with two ways out of the house, plus a designated meeting place once out of the house. Practice the fire escape plan regularly.

  • Keep an emergency ladder on upper floors of your home in the event of a fire. Keep the ladder in or near the room of an adult or older child capable of using it.
  • Make sure you have a smoke alarm on every level of your home and in each bedroom. Test smoke alarms monthly and remember to change the batteries twice a year.
  • Replace smoke alarms that are 10 years or older.
  • Install a fire extinguisher in the kitchen and know how to use it.
  • Keep matches, lighters, chemicals, and lit candles out of kids' reach.
  • Don't smoke inside, especially when you're tired, taking medication that can cause you to be drowsy, or in bed.

Electrical Equipment and Appliances

  • Put child-safety covers on all electrical outlets.
  • Get rid of equipment and appliances with old or frayed cords and extension cords that look damaged.
  • Bind excess cord from lamps or other electrical equipment with a twist-tie to prevent injury from chewing on cords. You also can purchase a holder or spool specially designed to hide extra cord.
  • Position television and stereo equipment against walls so small hands don't have access to the back surfaces or cords. It's best to secure TVs by attaching them to the wall.
  • Make sure all wires to seasonal lighting, such as holiday tree lights, are properly insulated (for example, make sure they don't have exposed or broken wiring). Bind any excess cord and unplug lights when they're not in use.
  • Check electronic toys often for signs of wear and tear; any object that sparks, feels hot, or smells unusual must be repaired or thrown away immediately. Replace batteries in electronic toys regularly and look for any signs of corrosion in the toys.
  • Clean the clothes dryer vent of lint after each use.
  • Don't run electrical wires under rugs or carpet.
  • Don't overload electrical sockets.
  • Keep any decorative items away from windows, doors, and ceilings. Make sure anything you have near the ceiling is not blocking any sprinklers you may have installed.

Living Room

  • Screen fireplaces and wood-burning stoves and always keep kids 3 feet away from them. Radiators and electric baseboard heaters also might need to be screened.
  • Teach kids never to put anything into the fireplace when it is lit. Also make sure they know the doors to the fireplace can be very hot and cause a burn.
  • Make sure to have all chimneys inspected and cleaned regularly

Wildfire Preparation

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

Southern California is infamous for its wildfire seasons. With high temperatures and winds, fires can spring up and can spread very quickly. It is important to take the time to prepare for evacuation should an emergency situation arise.

Below is a checklist that can help you with this:

1. Pack an emergency bag for you and your family (basically act like you’re going on a weekend camping trip):


    • Water and nonperishable food (3 day supply per person). If you have animals, ensure you include their food.

    • A first aid kit, including any absolutely needed medications or medical items.

    • Emergency tools including flashlights, batteries, radio, etc.

    • Sanitation and hygiene items, including any items needed for any infants such as diapers.

    • Cellphone chargers.

    • Extra clothes and footwear for each person.

    • One blanket or sleeping bag per person.

    • Some cash and emergency credit cards (if you have them).

2. Put a plan together:


    • Plan two ways out of your neighborhood in case a usual road is blocked

    • Select a meeting place for your family members in case you are evacuated, can’t get home, etc. Also select one person who is out of the area to be a central contact point in case you are not able to meet up or get a hold of one another.

    • Figure out what documents you should take with you. Make sure the documents are all in one location that is easy for you to access. You can also make copies of all of them and keep them specifically with your emergency bag.

    • Figure out any cherished (irreplaceable) items you would want to take (jewelry, artwork, etc.). Make a list ahead of time so that if you do HAVE TIME to pack, you can quickly gather up these items (NOTE: These are the LAST things you would gather up, the first being your family and pets, the second being your emergency supplies, the 3rd being your documents and this being the LAST. If there is something so important to you that you must take it with you, put it with your emergency bag).

    • Don’t let your vehicle get to empty on gas. You don’t want to have to evacuate and be out of gas, that would be bad. Try to keep at least 1/2 a tank of gas throughout the fire season.

3. Prepare your home:


    • Clear dead brush, dead or dry plants and pine needles from around your home

    • Keep your roof and rain gutters clean and clear of all pine needles, dry leaves, etc.

    • Keep trees and bushes trimmed and not hanging over your roof

    • There are many other steps you can take, including using fire resistant material for your roof and fence, but the above 4 are things you can do immediately. For longer term fire proofing of your home, here are some great tips.

If and once you’re told to evacuate, do so immediately, don’t wait. Don’t panic. Take your emergency kit, family and pets and then anything else you have time for, lock your home and go to your emergency meet up location.

Are You Sick of The Mold In Your Home?

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

Mold and Your Home

Mold is found both indoors and outdoors. Mold can enter your home through open doorways, windows, vents, and heating and air conditioning systems. Mold in the air outside can also attach itself to clothing, shoes, bags, and pets can and be carried indoors.

Mold will grow in places with a lot of moisture, such as around leaks in roofs, windows, or pipes, or where there has been flooding. Mold grows well on paper products, cardboard, ceiling tiles, and wood products. Mold can also grow in dust, paints, wallpaper, insulation, drywall, carpet, fabric, and upholstery.

You Can Control Mold

Inside your home you can control mold growth by:

  • Controlling humidity levels;
  • Promptly fixing leaky roofs, windows, and pipes;
  • Thoroughly cleaning and drying after flooding;
  • Ventilating shower, laundry, and cooking areas.

If mold is growing in your home, you need to clean up the mold and fix the moisture problem. Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial products, soap and water, or a bleach solution of no more than 1 cup of household laundry bleach in 1 gallon of water.

Mold growth, which often looks like spots, can be many different colors, and can smell musty. If you can see or smell mold, a health risk may be present. You do not need to know the type of mold growing in your home, and CDC does not recommend or perform routine sampling for molds. No matter what type of mold is present, you should remove it. Since the effect of mold on people can vary greatly, either because of the amount or type of mold, you can not rely on sampling and culturing to know your health risk. Also, good sampling for mold can be expensive, and standards for judging what is and what is not an acceptable quantity of mold have not been set. The best practice is to remove the mold and work to prevent future growth.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold:

  • Never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.
  • Open windows and doors to provide fresh air.
  • Wear non-porous gloves and protective eye wear.
  • If the area to be cleaned is more than 10 square feet, consult the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings. Although focused on schools and commercial buildings, this document also applies to other building types. You can get it by going to the EPA web site.
  • Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using bleach or any other cleaning product.

Mold Prevention

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

MOLD PREVENTION TIPS
  • Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
  • Be sure your home has enough ventilation. Use exhaust fans which vent outside your home in the kitchen and bathroom. Make sure your clothes dryer vents outside your home.
  • Fix any leaks in your home’s roof, walls, or plumbing so mold does not have moisture to grow.
  • Clean up and dry out your home thoroughly and quickly (within 24–48 hours) after flooding.
  • Add mold inhibitors to paints before painting.
  • Clean bathrooms with mold-killing products.
  • Remove or replace carpets and upholstery that have been soaked and cannot be dried promptly. Consider not using carpet in rooms or areas like bathrooms or basements that may have a lot of moisture.
  • To learn more about preventing mold in your home, see the Environmental Protection Agency's publication A Brief Guide to Mold, Moisture, and Your Home at http://www.epa.gov/mold/moldguide.html.

Rules for Storm Safety

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

1. Have a storm safety kit handy. You can make your own kit at home.

2. Stay inside during thunderstorms and blizzards. Lightning, wind and ice can damage power lines, making them very dangerous. It's also important to stay off the phone and computer during a storm too.

3. Use flashlights instead of candles. Using candles during a storm is a big fire hazard.

4. Don’t open the refrigerator or freezer unless you absolutely need to. Keeping the door closed as much as possible will make the food last longer.

5. If your power goes out,  notify the power company right away. The more calls or notifications they get, the faster they can find and fix the problem.

6. Don’t try to use a gas appliance to keep warm. Using a gas appliance the wrong way can cause deadly carbon monoxide. Bundle up in layers of clothes instead.

7. Ask someone to unplug as many appliances as possible. This will help prevent damage when the power comes back on.

8. Don’t stand near portable generators or heaters. This equipment is very dangerous, so stay far away.

9. Stay away from damaged or downed power lines. Even utility workers can't tell if a power line is energized just by looking at it.

10. Watch out for power lines when they're cleaning up outside. If power lines are running through damaged trees, call the electric company for help.

Thunder and Safety Thunders

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

Learn how to protect you and your loved ones during a thunderstorm.

The weather forecast calls for a slight chance of thunderstorms, but you can only see a few fluffy white clouds overhead. So you and your tennis partner grab your racquets and balls and head for the tennis court. You spend a few minutes warming up and then—wait! Is that thunder you hear? Was that a lightning flash?

What do you do? Keep playing until the thunder and lightning get closer? Go sit on the metal bench under the trees to see what happens? Or get in your car and drive home?

Correct answer: If no substantial, non-concrete shelter is nearby, get in your car and wait out the storm.

Why? Because being outside when lightning is present is not something to take lightly—ever.

Risks of Lightning Strikes

Although the odds of being struck by lightning in a given year are only around 1 in 500,000, some factors can put you at greater risk. Lightning most often strikes people who work outside or engage in outdoor recreational activities. Regional and seasonal differences can also affect your risk of being injured by lightning.

In 2016, Florida, Louisiana, New York, Mississippi, Colorado, North Carolina, and Texas had the most lightening deaths. 

The consequences of lightning strikes are serious. Lightning is one of the leading causes of weather-related fatalities. During 2004–2013, lightning caused an average of 33 deaths per year in the United States.

When you see lightning, take safety precautions.

Protect Yourself from Lightning Strikes

You can protect yourself from risk even if you are caught outdoors when lightning is close by.

Safety precautions outdoors

  • If the weather forecast calls for thunderstorms, postpone your trip or activity.
  • Remember: When thunder roars, go indoors. Find a safe, enclosed shelter.
  • The main lightning safety guide is the 30-30 rule. After you see lightning, start counting to 30. If you hear thunder before you reach 30, go indoors. Suspend activities for at least 30 minutes after the last clap of thunder.
  • If no shelter is available, crouch low, with as little of your body touching the ground as possible. Lightning causes electric currents along the top of the ground that can be deadly over 100 feet away.
  • Stay away from concrete floors or walls. Lightning can travel through any metal wires or bars in concrete walls or flooring.
    Although you should move into a non-concrete structure if possible, being indoors does not automatically protect you from lightning. In fact, about one-third of lightning-strike injuries occur indoors.

Safety precautions indoors

  • Avoid water during a thunderstorm. Lightning can travel through plumbing.
  • Avoid electronic equipment of all types. Lightning can travel through electrical systems and radio and television reception systems.
  • Avoid corded phones. However, cordless or cellular phones are safe to use during a storm.
  • Avoid concrete floors and walls.

Lightning strikes may be rare, but they still happen and the risk of serious injury or death is severe. So take thunderstorms seriously.

Learn and follow these safety rules to keep yourself safe from lightning.

Household Checklist: SAFETY FIRST!

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

Electrical

  • Are all unused outlets covered with safety plugs?
  • Are all major electrical appliances grounded?
  • Have cord holders been used to keep longer cords fastened against walls?
  • Have you checked for and removed other potential electrical fire hazards, such as overloaded electrical sockets and electrical wires running under carpets?
  • Are televisions, computers, and stereo equipment positioned against walls? Are they secured to the wall with brackets so they can't tip forward?

Heating & Cooling Elements

  • Are all radiators and baseboard heaters covered with childproof screens if necessary?
  • Have gas fireplaces been secured with a valve cover or key?
  • Do all working fireplaces have a screen and other barriers in place when in use?
  • Have any chimneys been cleaned recently?
  • Are all electric space heaters at least 3 feet (91 centimeters) from beds, curtains, or anything flammable?

Emergency Equipment & Numbers

  • Have you placed a list of emergency phone numbers near each phone in your home?
  • Are there fire extinguishers installed on every floor and in the kitchen? Do you know how to use them?
  • Do you have an emergency ladder for the upper floors of your home?
  • Are there smoke detectors on each floor of your home?
  • Have smoke detectors been installed in the hallways between all bedrooms of your home?
  • Have you tested all smoke detectors within the last month?
  • Have you changed the batteries in the smoke detectors within the past 6 months?
  • If you cook with or heat your home with natural gas or have an attached garage, have you considered installing a carbon monoxide detector in your home?

Electrical Safety

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

Water and electricity make a dangerous combination. That's especially true in your bathroom, where you use water from the sink and shower to clean yourself, but also rely on electrical devices like shavers and hair dryers. That's why you need to take special care with your devices in the bathroom to protect yourself and your family from shock, electrocution or fire. Read on for tips on how to ensure safety when it comes to the electrical work in the bathroom.

Bathroom Electrical Safety is Paramount

Water is essential to human health and hygiene. Unfortunately, it's also a great conductor of electricity. That means that you could receive a severe shock when you are standing in water, and even wet skin allows electricity an easier path to pass into your body. Electrical shocks can cause burns, heart arrhythmia, nervous system damage and death, and bad wiring or improper grounding can also start a fire. That's why safety in your bathroom electrical work should be one of your primary concerns. Follow these tips to avoid an emergency:

  • Make sure your electrical sockets are located a safe distance away from the shower. Cover the outlets when they aren't in use.
  • All the outlets in the bathroom should be equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters, which can sense when an electric current is improperly grounding and automatically shut down the power, potentially saving a person holding a hair dryer in the shower from a nasty shock.
  • On that note, never use electrical devices in the bathroom when you are standing in or otherwise in contact with standing water. This should be common sense, but sometimes people forget or get careless.
  • Any exposed or frayed wiring in the bathroom should be addressed and repaired immediately.
  • If you use an electric heater in your bathroom, it should be hardwired into a circuit, and preferably installed into the wall or ceiling.
  • The less wiring you have in your bathroom, the better, so recessed or enclosed lights are better than light bulbs or fixtures that hang freely from the walls or ceilings.
  • Pull strings for your lights are safer than switches because they prevent wet hands from getting anywhere near the circuit.
  • Electrical work must be performed by a licensed professional so you have assurances that the job is done well, and recourse if it isn't.

Don't Leave the Quality of Your Electrical Work to Chance

In addition to these tips, certain requirements about the installation of electrical work in bathrooms are found in local municipal codes as well. For all the electrical work in your bathroom, make sure you hire a qualified electrician who can adhere to all of the applicable quality and safety standards.

Pet Safety Matters Too!

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

If you have a dog or cat, you know that they can get into just as much trouble as kids. Dogs and cats are naturally curious. They might go snooping around your home, and you don’t want them to get into anything that could hurt them. That means you have to try to keep your house as pet-friendly as possible. There are plenty of safety tips you can follow to protect your pets as well as ways you can keep your home clean even with pets.

Keeping Your House Safe

As you start the process of keeping your home safe for your pets, you need to remember that certain things that are not threats to humans can still be dangerous to animals. For instance, certain plants can be hazardous to animals, so if a cat eats a lily, her kidneys can shut down. As a homeowner, you must do some research to find out what is really dangerous for your pets. Beyond knowing exactly what is dangerous for them, you can just try to keep everything out of reach. Here are some ways you can make sure that your pets stay safe and healthy:

    1. Childproof Latches
      Use childproof latches on kitchen and bathroom cupboards. This will prevent animals from getting to foods and chemicals that can cause them harm.
    2. Store Items High
      Keep medications, cleaners and other chemicals on high shelves, so if the childproof latches don’t keep your pets out they still won’t be able to get the dangerous stuff.
    3. Cover the Garbage
      Keep garbage cans covered, and, if possible, store them in a cabinet, closet or outdoors. Garbage cans are usually filled with a collection of old food, dangerous chemicals, and small indigestible pieces of trash that can all be harmful to your animals.
    4. Use Blockades
      Animals can get trapped behind large units and overheat. To prevent this, put up blockades so they can’t get behind appliances like washing machines, dryers, refrigerators or air conditioning units.
    5. Keep Food Out of Reach
      Make sure food is out of reach or behind a closed door. Different food causes problems for dogs and cats, and the wrapper could also present a choking hazard. It is best if you keep all food where they cannot get to it.
    6. Close the Toilet Lid
      Keep the toilet lid down to prevent small animals from drowning. Allowing your pets the opportunity to drink out of the bowl is dangerous too, as it exposes them to all sorts of harmful chemicals.
    7. Avoid Dangling Wires
      Try to eliminate dangling wires from lamps, gaming systems, TVs, stereos or anything of the sort. Your animals might get hurt if they chew on any wires.
    8. Hide Breakable or Chewable Items
      Be wary of placing knick-knacks, picture frames, vases or other dangerous items on low shelves where your cat or dog can get at them. Smaller or breakable items should be kept higher than your pet can get to.
 
  1. Dangerous House Plants
    Be aware of plants that may be a danger to your animal, and try to avoid bringing them into the house. Common houseplants that are actually dangerous for your animals to ingest are Lilies, Azaleas, Oleander, Tulips, Yew, Chrysanthemum and English Ivy, and there are many more. Be sure to research if your houseplants are hazards to your beloved animals.
  2. Strings and Threads
    Make sure all thread and string is safely put away. Sewing rooms in general can be very dangerous for pets. It is easy for a cat to choke on some thread while playing with it. Needles also pose a real danger to animals.
  3. Laundry and Shoes
    Keep your laundry and shoes in closets or proper bins, so your pets can’t eat them. Not only can pets ruin your clothes for you, but small pieces like buttons and zippers can be choking hazards.
  4. Closet and Cupboard Traps
    Be careful not to close your cat or dog in closets, cupboards or drawers. You don’t want to trap them without food and water! Make sure all cabinets are clear of animals before you shut the doors.
  5. Rugs and Claws
    Pick rugs that resist stains, such as indoor-outdoor rugs, as well as ones that do not have high loops. Cats in particular can get hooked by their claws and hurt themselves.

Risk of Water Damage for Hotels & Shopping Centers

8/24/2017 (Permalink)

Large buildings often have a long and confusing system of water pipes that deliver water from floor to floor. This makes the potential for water damage from flooding after a burst pipe much higher in these types of buildings than in a typical home or small business. Buildings that are prone to this type of damage include high-rises, hotels, hospitals, dormitories and shopping centers.

Some of the most common causes of flood damage in these types of buildings includes:

  • Malfunction of level detection devices
  • Malfunction of fire water sprinkler systems
  • Burst pipe
  • Human error
  • Natural disaster
  • Roof leak
  • Foundation leak
  • Leaking or rupturing water chiller lines for HVAC systems

When water leaks on an upper floor, it will often flow down several floors by following the path of least resistance. That means that it can get into ceilings, behind walls and under carpet. When water damage strikes, the consequences can be serious. Not only is the space damaged, resulting in high repair costs, but the longer it takes to repair the space the more revenue is lost. Further, damage from the water itself is only the beginning of the problem. If untreated, water damage can lead to mold and mildew, necessitating even more cleanup and repair.