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When Storms or Floods hit Lehigh County, SERVPRO is ready!

10/17/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage When Storms or Floods hit Lehigh County, SERVPRO is ready! Our highly trained crews are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Lehigh County.

SERVPRO of Western Lehigh County specializes in storm and flood damage restoration.  Our crews are highly trained and we use specialized equipment to restore your property to its pre-storm condition.

Faster Response

Since we are locally owned and operated, we are able to respond quicker with the right resources, which is extremely important. A fast response lessens the damage, limits further damage, and reduces the restoration cost.

Resources to Handle Floods and Storms

When storms hit Lehigh County, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.

Have Storm or Flood Damage? Call Us Today 610.776.7774

Does Your Lehigh County Home Have A Mold Problem?

10/3/2018 (Permalink)

Mold Remediation Does Your Lehigh County Home Have A Mold Problem? In Lehigh County, mold can spread through a home in as little as 48 hours.

Microscopic mold spores naturally occur almost everywhere, both outdoors and indoors. This makes it impossible to remove all mold from a home or business. Therefore, mold remediation reduces the mold spore count back to its natural or baseline level. Some restoration businesses advertise “mold removal” and even guarantee to remove all mold, which is a fallacy. Consider the following mold facts:

  • Mold is present almost everywhere, indoors and outdoors.
  • Mold spores are microscopic and float along in the air and may enter your home through windows, doors, or AC/heating systems or even hitch a ride indoors on your clothing or a pet.
  • Mold spores thrive on moisture. Mold spores can quickly grow into colonies when exposed to water. These colonies may produce allergens and irritants.
  • Before mold remediation can begin, any sources of water or moisture must be addressed. Otherwise, the mold may return.
  • Mold often produces a strong, musty odor and can lead you to possible mold problem areas.
  • Even higher-than-normal indoor humidity can support mold growth. Keep indoor humidity below 45 percent.

If your home or business has a mold problem, we can inspect and assess your property and use our specialized training, equipment, and expertise to remediate your mold infestation.

If You See Signs of Mold, Call Us Today – 610.776.7774

National Preparedness Month: National Flood Insurance

9/21/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage National Preparedness Month: National Flood Insurance The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures.

The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners, renters and businesses and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically.

For more information, visit www.FloodSmart.gov. Watch this short informative video, Why do I Need to Rethink Insurance?

This year (2018) the NFIP celebrates 50 years of protecting people in the United States against the perils of flood damage.

HURRICANES HARVEY AND IRMA NOTE: If you've been impacted by Hurricane Harvey, this page provides resources about how to File Your Flood Claim.

 

I Don't Have Flood Insurance--Why Do I Need It?

Use our interactive tool to find out how much a flood could cost you, and watch this short but informative video to learn more about the value of having flood insurance, Why do I Need to Rethink Insurance?

FACT: Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year.

FACT: Homeowners and renters insurance does not typically cover flood damage.

FACT: Floods can happen anywhere--More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside the high risk flood zone. Check out The Big Cost of Flooding.

FACT: Flood insurance can pay regardless of whether or not there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

FACT: Most federal disaster assistance comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans from U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and you have to pay them back. FEMA offers disaster grants that don't need to be paid back, but this amount is often much less than what is needed to recover. A claim against your flood insurance policy could and often does, provide more funds for recovery than those you could qualify for from FEMA or the SBA--and you don't have to pay it back.

FACT: You may be required to have flood insurance. Congress has mandated federally regulated or insured lenders to require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. But even if your property is not in a high risk flood area, your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance.

Flood insurance helps more: Check out your state's flood history with FEMA's interactive data visualization tool. Roll your cursor over each county to see how many flooding events have happened. The tool allows you to compare how much FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have provided in terms of federal disaster aid after Presidential Disaster Declarations to the amount the National Flood Insurance program has paid to its policyholders. It's easy to see that having flood insurance provides a lot more help for recovery.

I Have Flood Insurance--Do I Really Need To Keep It?

You realize your flood insurance policy is about to expire and you’re on the fence about renewing: It hasn’t flooded in your area in years (or ever). And you really could use that extra money to buy something you really want. Watch this short, informative video, Why Do I Need to Rethink Insurance?

But wait!

DON’T. RISK. IT.

FACT: Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States, affecting every region and state, including yours.

FACT: Flood insurance can be the difference between recovering and being financially devastated.

FACT: The damage from just one inch of water can cost more than $20,000. Check out The Big Cost of Flooding.

FACT: You may be required to have flood insurance. Congress has mandated federally regulated or insured lenders to require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. But even if your property is not in a high-risk flood area, your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance.

FACT: If you allow your flood insurance policy to lapse for either more than 90 days, or twice for any number of days, you may be required to provide an Elevation Certificate (if you don't have one), and you may no longer be eligible for policy rate discounts you might have been receiving prior to the policy lapse. It's important to talk with your insurance agent before canceling or not renewing the policy.

FACT: You can file a flood claim even if there is not a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

FACT: Flood damage is not typically covered by homeowners insurance.

FACT: No home is completely safe from potential flooding devastation—why risk it?

FACT: If you live in a high risk flood zone, and you've received federal disaster assistance in the form of grants from FEMA or low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) following a Presidential Disaster Declaration, you must maintain flood insurance in order to be considered for any future federal disaster aid.

FACT: Storms are not the only cause of floods. Flooding can be caused by dams or levees breaking, new development changing how water flows above and below ground, snowmelt and much more.

FACT: Too often, Americans are caught off guard by the emotional and financial costs of flood damage.

Flood insurance helps more: Check out your state's flood history with FEMA's interactive data Visualization Tool. Roll your cursor over each county to see how many flooding events have happened. The tool allows you to compare how much FEMA has provided in terms of federal disaster aid (through its Individuals & Households Program) after Presidential Disaster Declarations to the amount the National Flood Insurance Program has paid to its policyholders. It's easy to see having flood insurance provides a lot more help for recovery.

To renew your policy, call your flood insurance agent. If you don’t have your insurance agent’s contact information, call the National Flood Insurance Program’s Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.

Who Can Buy Flood Insurance?

If you are a renter or homeowner (residential policy); or business owner (non-residential policy) and your property is located in a NFIP-participating community, you can purchase a policy. Contact your insurance agent to find out if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood insurance from the NFIP is only available in participating communities. Ask your agent if your state and community participate, or look it up online in the Community Status Book.

Learn more by watching these short videos, What Do I Need To Know About Flood Insurance Coverage? and How Can I Buy Flood Insurance?

How Can I Buy Flood Insurance?

Find an insurance agent near you. The agent who helps you with your homeowners or renters insurance may be able to help you with purchasing flood insurance too.

You can only purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent; you cannot buy it directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can:

  • Contact the National Flood Insurance Program’s Help Center at 1-800-427-4661 to request an agent referral.
  • Watch this informative video, How Can I Buy Flood Insurance?

What Do I Need To Know When I Buy A Flood Insurance Policy?

How Do I Renew, Change Or Pay For My Flood Insurance Policy?

Your flood insurance agent can help you make changes to, pay for, or renew your flood policy. If your lender requires you to have flood insurance, contact them directly to ask questions about renewing or changing your policy. Your payments could be included in financial transactions associated with your mortgage.

My Question Is About Flood Maps--What Should I Do?

Find out if your community has a recent or upcoming flood map change. When your community’s  flood map is updated to reflect the current risks where you live, requirements for flood insurance coverage and the costs of your policy can also change.

Find your community’s flood map (Type in your address and choose "Interactive Map")

Get answers to your flood mapping questions online or by talking with someone from FEMA’s Map Service Center.

Request a review of your flood zone designation (If you believe the zone your insurer or lender has determined for your property is incorrect.)

What Should I Know And Do Before, During And After A Flood?

The National Flood Insurance Program Desk Reference is in three distinct sections:

  • Before the Flood
  • During the Flood, and
  • After the Flood

Community and state leaders, insurance industry professionals, as well as policyholders, renters, homeowners and businesses will find its resources helpful. We have organized this guide to provide succinct information in an easy-to-navigate document and included important, key contact information. To ensure it can be updated as the program evolves, this document has been published electronically.

Read about everything from mitigating your home to reduce flood damage, to information about weather alerts and how to stay safe when it's flooding in, How to Prepare for a Flood.

Information for Policyholders, Help with or without a Disaster Declaration.

My Home Or Business Just Flooded--What Should I Do?

File Your Flood Claim

Flood claim appeals and guidance (please note--you cannot appeal a claim until you receive a denial [for some or all of your claim amount] from your insurance company.)

What Can I Do To Prepare For Or Even Reduce Flood Damage? And Can Doing These Things Lessen How Much I Pay For Flood Insurance?

What you pay for flood insurance has a lot to do with how much flood risk is associated with your building. It makes sense to reduce flood risk no matter what, but in some instances reducing flood risk can also lead to lower flood insurance costs. Below are some resources to help, but discussing your policy options with your insurance agent is the best place to start.

Reducing Flood Risk to Residential Buildings that Cannot be Elevated explains things that can be done to better protect a building from flood damage, and in some cases implementing these changes will reduce the cost of your flood insurance.

Communities enrolled in the NFIP's Community Rating System can get discounts on their flood insurance, learn more here.

The Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting can help you decide the right method to mitigate future damage and loss by considering various factors, such as hazards to your home, permit requirements, technical limitations, and costs. This guide also helps you develop a flood protection strategy.

The Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage, for eligible properties that are required to be in compliance with local floodplain requirements, can help pay for elevating a building after a flood. Another way to get help with the cost of elevating your building would be through one of FEMA's various grant programs. The grants are administered by states, and each state decides which projects it will fund and for how much. Contact your local floodplain manager for more information.

To learn more about elevating your property, read Elevating Your House.

Did you know? An elevated home, like the one shown on the 5 Ways to Lower Your Flood Insurance Premium, with a first floor elevated 3 feet above the base ­flood elevation, can expect to save 60 percent or more on annual ­flood insurance premiums.

Did you know? Elevating just one foot above the Base Flood Elevation often results in a 30% reduction in annual premiums.

Source: Ready.gov

National Preparedness Month: How to file a flood claim

9/19/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage National Preparedness Month: How to file a flood claim Collect all documents and protect them in a safe place in case of a flood!
How Do I File My Flood Claim?

It can be a very overwhelming time for a property owner or renter following a flood. The information below will provide you with what you need to know about filing a flood insurance claim, tips on what you can do and need to know before your flood insurance adjuster visits your property and the other visitors you can expect at your property. The more you know, the smoother the process will go.

You should report your loss immediately to your insurance agent or insurance carrier and ask them about Advance Payments.

Find your insurer on this list of insurance companies administering National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance and report your claim right away. If you need assistance finding your insurance carrier, please call 800-427-4661. Help is available in most languages. Individuals who are deaf or hard-of-hearing can use TTY 800-462-7585.

If you have a policy written directly with the NFIP (i.e., your Declaration Page has the FEMA logo in the top corner), it's fast and easy to report your claim directly to the NFIP's Direct Servicing Agent.

You should have the following information available when reporting your claim:

  • Policy Declarations page (official document detailing your flood insurance coverage), if available
  • How you can be reached: telephone number or alternate contact number and email address
  • The insured property location
  • The name of any mortgage company(s)

A claims adjuster should contact you within 24-48 hours, but it may take longer, depending on the severity of the flood event.

NOTE: Your NFIP policy does not cover Additional Living Expenses, including temporary housing, but if you qualify, FEMA’s Individuals and Households Program might be able to help. So, it’s important to register for assistance with FEMA, even if you have flood insurance.

Registering online, at DisasterAssistance.gov is the quickest way to register for FEMA assistance. If you do not have access to the internet, you may register by calling 800-621-3362 or TTY 800-462-7585. If you use 711 relay or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 800-621-3362 directly. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (local time) seven days a week until further notice.

NFIP policyholders must follow the guidelines of their flood policy when cleaning up. Read the U.S. Department of Environmental Protection Agency’s Homeowner’s and Renter’s Guide to Mold Cleanup After Disasters.

Before entering a flooded building, make sure it’s safe.

Take as many photos and/or videos of your flood-damaged property as you can, both on the outside and the inside of the building, and label them, by room, before you remove anything—including items of exceptional value. For items like washers and dryers, hot water heaters, kitchen appliances, televisions and computers, make sure you take a photograph of the make, model and serial number. This information should be provided to your adjuster.

Remove your flood damaged items:

  1. For your building items (e.g., flooring), retain samples such as carpet, wallpaper and drapes for your adjuster’s inspection.
  2. For your personal property items, separate the damaged from undamaged items for your adjuster’s inspection.
  3. Immediately throw away flooded items that pose a health risk, such as perishable food, clothing, cushions and pillows, after photographing them.
  4. Confirm your available NFIP coverage. Some policyholders may only have building or contents (personal property items) coverage, not both.
  5. Contact repair services if the building’s electrical, water or HVAC systems are damaged. It’s important to consult your adjuster or insurance carrier before you sign any agreement/contract with a cleaning, remediation or maintenance contractor.
  6. Contact your community building department and floodplain administrator to get the following information:
  7. Whether your property was substantially damaged;
  8. Tips on how to better protect or repair your home; and
  9. How to obtain a building permit. This is a very important step to ensure you are rebuilding in compliance with local ordinances.

When your claims adjuster arrives, he/she should show you their official identification (Driver’s License and Company ID or Flood Control Number (FCN card)). The adjuster should also provide you with their contact information, such as their name, email, phone number, the name of their adjusting firm and their telephone number.

What you should expect from your adjuster:

  • An explanation of the NFIP Flood Claims Process.
  • An inspection of your property—during which he/she will scope your loss by taking measurements and photos.
  • An explanation of what an Advance Payment is and how, or if, you can get one.
  • Information about how you should present your loss to your insurance carrier, and a discussion about your policy coverage.

Other things to know, do and/or discuss with your adjuster:

  • The insurance carrier, not the adjuster, has the authority to approve your claim.
  • Be sure to provide your current mailing address and phone number if you are displaced.
  • Ask if you are eligible for Increased Cost of Compliance.
  • The adjuster should never ask you for money or collect your deductible amount.

At the end of your inspection, your adjuster should provide you with information about what you need to do and what will happen next. The adjuster should hand you a physical copy of this information along with his/her contact information. Read more about what to do after your inspection.

Your adjuster may assist you in preparing a Proof of Loss (your sworn statement of the amount you are claiming, including necessary supporting documentation) for your official claim for damage. A Proof of Loss can be many things, but must contain the specific details set forth in the Standard Flood Insurance Policy. You'll need to file your Proof of Loss with your insurance company within 60 days of the date of loss.

You'll receive your claim payment after you and the insurer agree on the amount of damage and the insurer has your complete and signed Proof of Loss. If major catastrophic flooding occurs, it may take longer to process claims.

Note: Signing a Proof of Loss does not waive your rights to file for additional claim payments in the future if additional damage is discovered.

Note: The requirement to file the Proof of Loss could be waived by FEMA depending on the severity of the event. Your adjuster or insurance company will let you know if this happens.

Source: Floodsmart.gov

National Preparedness Month: Home Fires

9/15/2018 (Permalink)

Fire Damage National Preparedness Month: Home Fires Learn how to prevent home fires!

In just two minutes, a fire can become life-threatening. In five minutes, a residence can be engulfed in flames.

Learn About Fires

  • Fire is FAST! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for thick black smoke to fill a house or for it to be engulfed in flames.
  • Fire is HOT! Heat is more threatening than flames. Room temperatures in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs and melt clothes to your skin.
  • Fire is DARK! Fire starts bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness.
  • Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire produces poisonous gases that make you disoriented and drowsy. Asphyxiation is the leading cause of fire deaths, exceeding burns by a three-to-one ratio.

Before a Fire

Create and Practice a Fire Escape Plan

In the event of a fire, remember that every second counts, so you and your family must always be prepared. Escape plans help you get out of your home quickly.

Twice each year, practice your home fire escape plan.  Some tips to consider when preparing this plan include:

  • Find two ways to get out of each room in the event the primary way is blocked by fire or smoke.
  • A secondary route might be a window onto a neighboring roof or a collapsible ladder for escape from upper story windows.
  • Make sure that windows are not stuck, screens can be taken out quickly, and that security bars can be properly opened.
  • Practice feeling your way out of the house in the dark or with your eyes closed.
  • Teach children not to hide from firefighters.

Smoke Alarms

A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire.

  • Install both ionization AND photoelectric smoke alarms, OR dual sensor smoke alarms, which contain both ionization and photoelectric smoke sensors.
  • Test batteries monthly.
  • Replace batteries in battery-powered and hard-wired smoke alarms at least once a year (except non-replaceable 10-year lithium batteries).
  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, including the basement, both inside and outside of sleeping areas.
  • Replace the entire smoke alarm unit every 8-10 years or according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Never disable a smoke alarm while cooking – it can be a deadly mistake.

Smoke Alarm Safety for People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Audible alarms for visually impaired people should pause with a small window of silence between each successive cycle so that they can listen to instructions or voices of others.
  • Smoke alarms with a vibrating pad or flashing light are available for the hearing impaired. Contact your local fire department for information about obtaining a flashing or vibrating smoke alarm.
  • Smoke alarms with a strobe light outside the home to catch the attention of neighbors, and emergency call systems for summoning help, are also available.

More Fire Safety Tips

  • Make digital copies of valuable documents and records like birth certificates.
  • Sleep with your door closed.
  • Contact your local fire department for information on training on the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers.
  • Consider installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your residence.

During a Fire

  • Crawl low under any smoke to your exit - heavy smoke and poisonous gases collect first along the ceiling.
  • Before opening a door, feel the doorknob and door. If either is hot, or if there is smoke coming around the door, leave the door closed and use your second way out.
  • If you open a door, open it slowly. Be ready to shut it quickly if heavy smoke or fire is present.
  • If you can’t get to someone needing assistance, leave the home and call 9-1-1 or the fire department. Tell the emergency operator where the person is located.
  • If pets are trapped inside your home, tell firefighters right away.
  • If you can’t get out, close the door and cover vents and cracks around doors with cloth or tape to keep smoke out.  Call 9-1-1 or your fire department. Say where you are and signal for help at the window with a light-colored cloth or a flashlight.
  • If your clothes catch fire, stop, drop, and roll – stop immediately, drop to the ground, and cover your face with your hands.  Roll over and over or back and forth until the fire is out.  If you or someone else cannot stop, drop, and roll, smother the flames with a blanket or towel.  Use cool water to treat the burn immediately for 3 to 5 minutes.  Cover with a clean, dry cloth.  Get medical help right away by calling 9-1-1 or the fire department.

Fire Escape Planning for Older Adults and People with Access or Functional Needs

  • Live near an exit. You'll be safest on the ground floor if you live in an apartment building. If you live in a multi-story home, arrange to sleep on the ground floor, and near an exit.
  • If you use a walker or wheelchair, check all exits to be sure you get through the doorways.
  • Make any necessary accommodations, such as providing exit ramps and widening doorways, to facilitate an emergency escape.
  • Speak to your family members, building manager, or neighbors about your fire safety plan and practice it with them.
  • Contact your local fire department's non-emergency line and explain your special needs. Ask emergency providers to keep your special needs information on file.
  • Keep a phone near your bed and be ready to call 911 or your local emergency number if a fire occurs.

After a Fire

The following checklist serves as a quick reference and guide for you to follow after a fire strikes.

  • Contact your local disaster relief service, such as The Red Cross, if you need temporary housing, food and medicines.
  • If you are insured, contact your insurance company for detailed instructions on protecting the property, conducting inventory and contacting fire damage restoration companies.  If you are not insured, try contacting private organizations for aid and assistance.
  • Check with the fire department to make sure your residence is safe to enter. Be watchful of any structural damage caused by the fire.
  • The fire department should see that utilities are either safe to use or are disconnected before they leave the site.  DO NOT attempt to reconnect utilities yourself.
  • Conduct an inventory of damaged property and items.  Do not throw away any damaged goods until after an inventory is made.
  • Try to locate valuable documents and records.  Refer to information on contacts and the replacement process inside this brochure.
  • Begin saving receipts for any money you spend related to fire loss.  The receipts may be needed later by the insurance company and for verifying losses claimed on income tax.
  • Notify your mortgage company of the fire.

Prevent Home Fires

Home fires are preventable! The following are simple steps that each of us can take to prevent a tragedy.

Cooking

  • Stay in the kitchen when you are frying, grilling, or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.
  • Wear short, close-fitting or tightly rolled sleeves when cooking.
  • Keep children away from cooking areas by enforcing a "kid-free zone" of 3 feet around the stove.
  • Position barbecue grills at least 10 feet away from siding and deck railings, and out from under eaves and overhanging branches.

Smoking

  • Smoke outside and completely stub out butts in an ashtray or a can filled with sand.
  • Soak cigarette butts and ashes in water before throwing them away. Never toss hot cigarette butts or ashes in the trash can.
  • Never smoke in a home where oxygen is used, even if it is turned off. Oxygen can be explosive and makes fire burn hotter and faster.
  • Be alert - don’t smoke in bed! If you are sleepy, have been drinking, or have taken medicine that makes you drowsy, put your cigarette out first.

Electrical and Appliance Safety

  • Frayed wires can cause fires. Replace all worn, old or damaged appliance cords immediately and do not run cords under rugs or furniture.
  • If an appliance has a three-prong plug, use it only in a three-slot outlet. Never force it to fit into a two-slot outlet or extension cord.
  • Immediately shut off, then professionally replace, light switches that are hot to the touch and lights that flicker.

Portable Space Heaters

  • Keep combustible objects at least three feet away from portable heating devices.
  • Buy only heaters evaluated by a nationally recognized laboratory, such as Underwriters Laboratories (UL).
  • Check to make the portable heater has a thermostat control mechanism, and will switch off automatically if the heater falls over.
  • Only use crystal clear K-1 kerosene in kerosene heaters. Never overfill it. Use the heater in a well-ventilated room.

Fireplaces and Woodstoves

  • Inspect and clean woodstove pipes and chimneys annually and check monthly for damage or obstructions.
  • Use a fireplace screen heavy enough to stop rolling logs and big enough to cover the entire opening of the fireplace to catch flying sparks.
  • Make sure the fire is completely out before leaving the house or going to bed.

Children

  • Take the mystery out of fire play by teaching children that fire is a tool, not a toy.
  • Store matches and lighters out of children's reach and sight, preferably in a locked cabinet.
  • Never leave children unattended near operating stoves or burning candles, even for a short time.

More Prevention Tips

  • Never use stove range or oven to heat your home.
  • Keep combustible and flammable liquids away from heat sources.
  • Portable generators should NEVER be used indoors and should only be refueled outdoors or in well ventilated areas.

Source: Ready.gov

National Preparedness Month: Flood Insurance

9/11/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage National Preparedness Month: Flood Insurance Don't wait until it's too late to get flood insurance!

How Do I Buy Flood Insurance?

National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policies can be purchased through thousands of insurance agents nationwide. The agent who helps you with your homeowners or renters insurance may also be able to help you with purchasing flood insurance. Here is a list of participating Write Your Own (WYO) companies.

If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can contact the NFIP Help Center at 800-427-4661. NFIP flood insurance policies can only be purchased for properties within communities that participate in the NFIP. Ask your agent if your community participates, or look it up online in the Community Status Book.

  Why Buy Flood Insurance

No home is completely safe from potential flooding. Flood insurance can be the difference between recovering and being financially devastated. Just one inch of water in a home can cost more than $25,000 in damage—why risk it?

The Cost of Flooding

Flooding can be an emotionally and financially devastating event.  Without flood insurance, most residents have to pay out of pocket or take out loans to repair and replace damaged items.  With flood insurance, you're able to recover faster and more fully.  Use the tool below to see how much flood damage—even from just a few inches of water—could cost you.

 

Do You Need Flood Insurance?

Here are some important facts to keep in mind:

  • FACT: Homeowners and renters insurance does not typically cover flood damage.
  • FACT: More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside high-risk flood zones.
  • FACT: Flood insurance can pay regardless of whether or not there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration.
  • FACT: Disaster assistance comes in two forms: a U.S. Small Business Administration loan, which must be paid back with interest, or a FEMA disaster grant, which is about $5,000 on average per household.  By comparison, the average flood insurance claim is nearly $30,000 and does not have to be repaid.
All About Flood Maps

The primary feature of flood maps are flood zones, which are geographic areas that FEMA has defined according to varying levels of flood risk and type of flooding. These zones are depicted on the published Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) or Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM). Everyone lives in an area with some risk of flood—it’s just a question of whether you live in a low-, moderate-, or high-risk area.

To find your community’s flood map, visit the FEMA Flood Map Service Center, then type in your address and search. You may view, print and download flood maps, open an interactive flood map (if available), and view all products related to your community.

Find out if your community has pending or preliminary map changes underway. When your community’s flood map is updated to reflect the current risks where you live, requirements for flood insurance coverage and the costs of your policy can also change. Want to receive an alert when your community’s flood map changes? Sign upto receive email notifications when products are updated.

Get answers to your flood mapping questions online or by talking with someone from FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center.

How Can I Pay Less for My Flood Insurance?

What you pay for flood insurance often has a lot to do with how much flood risk is associated with your building. Mitigation and other factors play a role in protecting properties from flood damage, but sometimes they can also help reduce how much you pay for your flood insurance policy.

Did You Know?

 

An elevated home, like the one shown in 5 Ways to Lower Your Flood Insurance Premium with a first floor elevated three feet above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE), can expect to save 60% or more on annual flood insurance premiums. 

Does my community get a discount?

If your community is enrolled in the Community Rating System (CRS), you may be receiving a discount on your flood insurance. The discount is calculated based on the community's efforts to reduce the risk of flooding. If you have questions about CRS, call your insurance agent or insurer.

Are there ways to protect my property from flood damage?

 

The Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting can help you decide the right method to mitigate future damage and loss by considering various factors, such as hazards to your home, permit requirements, technical limitations and costs. This guide also helps you develop a flood protection strategy.

Elevation: is it the answer?

 

The Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage, for eligible properties that are required to be in compliance with local floodplain requirements, can help pay for elevating a building after a flood. Another way to get help with the cost of elevating your building would be through one of FEMA's various grant programs. The grants are administered by states, and each state decides which projects it will fund and for how much. Contact your local floodplain manager for more information.

If you would like to consider elevating your home, learn more about it to determine if it might be a good option. It can be very expensive, but can substantially reduce flood damage and could be a way to reduce the cost of your flood insurance. Here’s another helpful resource: Chapter Five in Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting.

I cannot elevate my property, so what can I do?

 

Reducing Flood Risk to Residential Buildings that Cannot be Elevated explains things that can be done to better protect a building from flood damage, and in some cases implementing these changes will reduce the cost of your flood insurance.

Source: Floodsmart.gov

National Preparedness Month: National Flood Insurance

9/11/2018 (Permalink)

Storm Damage National Preparedness Month: National Flood Insurance The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures.

The National Flood Insurance Program aims to reduce the impact of flooding on private and public structures. It does so by providing affordable insurance to property owners, renters and businesses and by encouraging communities to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations. These efforts help mitigate the effects of flooding on new and improved structures. Overall, the program reduces the socio-economic impact of disasters by promoting the purchase and retention of general risk insurance, but also of flood insurance, specifically.

For more information, visit www.FloodSmart.gov. Watch this short informative video, Why do I Need to Rethink Insurance?

This year (2018) the NFIP celebrates 50 years of protecting people in the United States against the perils of flood damage.

HURRICANES HARVEY AND IRMA NOTE: If you've been impacted by Hurricane Harvey, this page provides resources about how to File Your Flood Claim.

 

I Don't Have Flood Insurance--Why Do I Need It?

Use our interactive tool to find out how much a flood could cost you, and watch this short but informative video to learn more about the value of having flood insurance, Why do I Need to Rethink Insurance?

FACT: Floods are the nation’s most common and costly natural disaster and cause millions of dollars in damage every year.

FACT: Homeowners and renters insurance does not typically cover flood damage.

FACT: Floods can happen anywhere--More than 20 percent of flood claims come from properties outside the high risk flood zone. Check out The Big Cost of Flooding.

FACT: Flood insurance can pay regardless of whether or not there is a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

FACT: Most federal disaster assistance comes in the form of low-interest disaster loans from U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and you have to pay them back. FEMA offers disaster grants that don't need to be paid back, but this amount is often much less than what is needed to recover. A claim against your flood insurance policy could and often does, provide more funds for recovery than those you could qualify for from FEMA or the SBA--and you don't have to pay it back.

FACT: You may be required to have flood insurance. Congress has mandated federally regulated or insured lenders to require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. But even if your property is not in a high risk flood area, your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance.

Flood insurance helps more: Check out your state's flood history with FEMA's interactive data visualization tool. Roll your cursor over each county to see how many flooding events have happened. The tool allows you to compare how much FEMA and the U.S. Small Business Administration have provided in terms of federal disaster aid after Presidential Disaster Declarations to the amount the National Flood Insurance program has paid to its policyholders. It's easy to see that having flood insurance provides a lot more help for recovery.

I Have Flood Insurance--Do I Really Need To Keep It?

You realize your flood insurance policy is about to expire and you’re on the fence about renewing: It hasn’t flooded in your area in years (or ever). And you really could use that extra money to buy something you really want. Watch this short, informative video, Why Do I Need to Rethink Insurance?

But wait!

DON’T. RISK. IT.

FACT: Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States, affecting every region and state, including yours.

FACT: Flood insurance can be the difference between recovering and being financially devastated.

FACT: The damage from just one inch of water can cost more than $20,000. Check out The Big Cost of Flooding.

FACT: You may be required to have flood insurance. Congress has mandated federally regulated or insured lenders to require flood insurance on mortgaged properties that are located in areas at high risk of flooding. But even if your property is not in a high-risk flood area, your mortgage lender may still require you to have flood insurance.

FACT: If you allow your flood insurance policy to lapse for either more than 90 days, or twice for any number of days, you may be required to provide an Elevation Certificate (if you don't have one), and you may no longer be eligible for policy rate discounts you might have been receiving prior to the policy lapse. It's important to talk with your insurance agent before canceling or not renewing the policy.

FACT: You can file a flood claim even if there is not a Presidential Disaster Declaration.

FACT: Flood damage is not typically covered by homeowners insurance.

FACT: No home is completely safe from potential flooding devastation—why risk it?

FACT: If you live in a high risk flood zone, and you've received federal disaster assistance in the form of grants from FEMA or low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) following a Presidential Disaster Declaration, you must maintain flood insurance in order to be considered for any future federal disaster aid.

FACT: Storms are not the only cause of floods. Flooding can be caused by dams or levees breaking, new development changing how water flows above and below ground, snowmelt and much more.

FACT: Too often, Americans are caught off guard by the emotional and financial costs of flood damage.

Flood insurance helps more: Check out your state's flood history with FEMA's interactive data Visualization Tool. Roll your cursor over each county to see how many flooding events have happened. The tool allows you to compare how much FEMA has provided in terms of federal disaster aid (through its Individuals & Households Program) after Presidential Disaster Declarations to the amount the National Flood Insurance Program has paid to its policyholders. It's easy to see having flood insurance provides a lot more help for recovery.

To renew your policy, call your flood insurance agent. If you don’t have your insurance agent’s contact information, call the National Flood Insurance Program’s Help Center at 1-800-427-4661.

Who Can Buy Flood Insurance?

If you are a renter or homeowner (residential policy); or business owner (non-residential policy) and your property is located in a NFIP-participating community, you can purchase a policy. Contact your insurance agent to find out if your community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program.

Flood insurance from the NFIP is only available in participating communities. Ask your agent if your state and community participate, or look it up online in the Community Status Book.

Learn more by watching these short videos, What Do I Need To Know About Flood Insurance Coverage? and How Can I Buy Flood Insurance?

How Can I Buy Flood Insurance?

Find an insurance agent near you. The agent who helps you with your homeowners or renters insurance may be able to help you with purchasing flood insurance too.

You can only purchase flood insurance through an insurance agent; you cannot buy it directly from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If your insurance agent does not sell flood insurance, you can:

  • Contact the National Flood Insurance Program’s Help Center at 1-800-427-4661 to request an agent referral.
  • Watch this informative video, How Can I Buy Flood Insurance?

What Do I Need To Know When I Buy A Flood Insurance Policy?

How Do I Renew, Change Or Pay For My Flood Insurance Policy?

Your flood insurance agent can help you make changes to, pay for, or renew your flood policy. If your lender requires you to have flood insurance, contact them directly to ask questions about renewing or changing your policy. Your payments could be included in financial transactions associated with your mortgage.

My Question Is About Flood Maps--What Should I Do?

Find out if your community has a recent or upcoming flood map change. When your community’s  flood map is updated to reflect the current risks where you live, requirements for flood insurance coverage and the costs of your policy can also change.

Find your community’s flood map (Type in your address and choose "Interactive Map")

Get answers to your flood mapping questions online or by talking with someone from FEMA’s Map Service Center.

Request a review of your flood zone designation (If you believe the zone your insurer or lender has determined for your property is incorrect.)

What Should I Know And Do Before, During And After A Flood?

The National Flood Insurance Program Desk Reference is in three distinct sections:

  • Before the Flood
  • During the Flood, and
  • After the Flood

Community and state leaders, insurance industry professionals, as well as policyholders, renters, homeowners and businesses will find its resources helpful. We have organized this guide to provide succinct information in an easy-to-navigate document and included important, key contact information. To ensure it can be updated as the program evolves, this document has been published electronically.

Read about everything from mitigating your home to reduce flood damage, to information about weather alerts and how to stay safe when it's flooding in, How to Prepare for a Flood.

Information for Policyholders, Help with or without a Disaster Declaration.

My Home Or Business Just Flooded--What Should I Do?

File Your Flood Claim

Flood claim appeals and guidance (please note--you cannot appeal a claim until you receive a denial [for some or all of your claim amount] from your insurance company.)

What Can I Do To Prepare For Or Even Reduce Flood Damage? And Can Doing These Things Lessen How Much I Pay For Flood Insurance?

What you pay for flood insurance has a lot to do with how much flood risk is associated with your building. It makes sense to reduce flood risk no matter what, but in some instances reducing flood risk can also lead to lower flood insurance costs. Below are some resources to help, but discussing your policy options with your insurance agent is the best place to start.

Reducing Flood Risk to Residential Buildings that Cannot be Elevated explains things that can be done to better protect a building from flood damage, and in some cases implementing these changes will reduce the cost of your flood insurance.

Communities enrolled in the NFIP's Community Rating System can get discounts on their flood insurance, learn more here.

The Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting can help you decide the right method to mitigate future damage and loss by considering various factors, such as hazards to your home, permit requirements, technical limitations, and costs. This guide also helps you develop a flood protection strategy.

The Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage, for eligible properties that are required to be in compliance with local floodplain requirements, can help pay for elevating a building after a flood. Another way to get help with the cost of elevating your building would be through one of FEMA's various grant programs. The grants are administered by states, and each state decides which projects it will fund and for how much. Contact your local floodplain manager for more information.

To learn more about elevating your property, read Elevating Your House.

Did you know? An elevated home, like the one shown on the 5 Ways to Lower Your Flood Insurance Premium, with a first floor elevated 3 feet above the base ­flood elevation, can expect to save 60 percent or more on annual ­flood insurance premiums.

Did you know? Elevating just one foot above the Base Flood Elevation often results in a 30% reduction in annual premiums.

Source: Ready.gov

National Preparedness Month: Safety Skills

9/10/2018 (Permalink)

General National Preparedness Month: Safety Skills Save yourself and others by getting certified in First Aid & CPR!

Learn First Aid & CPR 

Take a first aid and CPR class. Local American Red Cross chapters can provide information about this type of training. Official certification by the American Red Cross provides, under the “good Samaritan” law, protection for those giving first aid.

Get more information about the supplies in a first aid kit.

Learn to Use a Fire Extinguisher

Make sure you have one or more up-to-date fire extinguisher and be sure everyone knows where they are kept and how to use them. You should have, at a minimum, an ABC type.

The U.S. Fire Administration recommends that only those trained in the proper use and maintenance of fire extinguishers consider using them when appropriate. Contact your local fire department for information on training in your area. Get more information about preparedness for a fire emergency.

Know how to shut-off Utilities

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters. It is vital that all household members know how to shut off natural gas.

Because there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, it is important to contact your local gas company for any guidance on preparations and response regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.

When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your household. Be sure not to actually turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedures.

  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve, if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.

  • Caution: If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

Water

Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve. 

  • Before an emergency happens, locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house and label this valve with a tag for easy identification. Make sure all household members know where it is located.

  • Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open or it may only partially close. If so, replace it.

  • Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.

The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve. (This is not the street valve in the cement box at the curb – the street valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool.)

Electricity

Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity.

  • Locate you electrical circuit box. For your safety, always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit.

Source: Ready.gov

National Preparedness Month: Evacuation

9/7/2018 (Permalink)

General National Preparedness Month: Evacuation Plan for evacuation in your community!

Plan to Evacuate

A wide variety of emergencies may cause an evacuation. In some instances you may have a day or two to prepare, while other situations might call for an immediate evacuation. Planning ahead is vital to ensuring that you can evacuate quickly and safely, no matter what the circumstances.

Before an Evacuation

  • Learn the types of disasters that are likely in your community and the local emergency, evacuation, and shelter plans for each specific disaster.
  • Plan how you will leave and where you will go if you are advised to evacuate.
    • Identify several places you could go in an emergency such as a friend’s home in another town or a motel. Choose destinations in different directions so that you have options during an emergency.
    • If needed, identify a place to stay that will accept pets. Most public shelters allow only service animals.
    • Be familiar with alternate routes and other means of transportation out of your area.
    • Always follow the instructions of local officials and remember that your evacuation route may be on foot depending on the type of disaster.
  • Develop a family/household communication and re-unification plan so that you can maintain contact and take the best actions for each of you and re-unite if you are separated.
  • Assemble supplies that are ready for evacuation, both a “go-bag” you can carry when you evacuate on foot or public transportation and supplies for traveling by longer distances if you have a personal vehicle. 
  • If you have a car:
    • Keep a full tank of gas in it if an evacuation seems likely. Keep a half tank of gas in it at all times in case of an unexpected need to evacuate. Gas stations may be closed during emergencies and unable to pump gas during power outages. Plan to take one car per family to reduce congestion and delay.
    • Make sure you have a portable emergency kit in the car.
  • If you do not have a car, plan how you will leave if needed. Make arrangements with family, friends or your local government.

During an Evacuation

  • A list of open shelters can be found during an active disaster in your local area by downloading the FEMA app
  • Listen to a battery-powered radio and follow local evacuation instructions.
  • Take your emergency supply kit.
  • Leave early enough to avoid being trapped by severe weather.
  • Take your pets with you, but understand that only service animals may be permitted in public shelters. Plan how you will care for your pets in an emergency now.
  • If time allows:
    • Call or email the out-of-state contact in your family communications plan. Tell them where you are going.
    • Secure your home by closing and locking doors and windows.
    • Unplug electrical equipment such as radios, televisions and small appliances. Leave freezers and refrigerators plugged in unless there is a risk of flooding. If there is damage to your home and you are instructed to do so, shut off water, gas and electricity before leaving.
    • Leave a note telling others when you left and where you are going.
    • Wear sturdy shoes and clothing that provides some protection such as long pants, long-sleeved shirts and a hat.
    • Check with neighbors who may need a ride.
  • Follow recommended evacuation routes. Do not take shortcuts; they may be blocked.
  • Be alert for road hazards such as washed-out roads or bridges and downed power lines. Do not drive into flooded areas.

After an Evacuation

If you evacuated for the storm, check with local officials both where you’re staying and back home before you travel.

  • Residents returning to disaster-affected areas after significant events should expect and prepare for disruptions to daily activities, and remember that returning home before storm debris is cleared is dangerous.

  • Let friends and family know before you leave and when you arrive.

  • Charge devices and consider getting back-up batteries in case power-outages continue.

  • Fill up your gas tank and consider downloading a fuel app to check for outages along your route.

  • Bring supplies such as water and non-perishable food for the car ride.

  • Avoid downed power or utility lines; they may be live with deadly voltage. 

  • Stay away and report them immediately to your power or utility company.

  • Only use generators away from your home and NEVER run a generator inside a home or garage, or connect it to your home's electrical system.

Source: Ready.gov

National Preparedness Month:Emergency Alerts

9/6/2018 (Permalink)

General National Preparedness Month:Emergency Alerts Don't wait until after the emergency, prepare now!

Public safety officials use timely and reliable systems to alert you and your family in the event of natural or man-made disasters.

Wireless Emergency Alerts

During an emergency, alert and warning officials need to provide the public with life-saving information quickly. Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEAs), made available through the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS) infrastructure, are just one of the ways public safety officials can quickly and effectively alert and warn the public about serious emergencies.

What you need to know about WEAs:

  • WEAs can be sent by state and local public safety officials, the National Weather Service, the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, and the President of the United States
  • WEAs can be issued for three alert categories – imminent threat, AMBER, and presidential
  • WEAs look like text messages, but are designed to get your attention and alert you with a unique sound and vibration, both repeated twice
  • WEAs are no more than 90 characters, and will include the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, as well as the agency issuing the alert
  • WEAs are not affected by network congestion and will not disrupt texts, calls, or data sessions that are in progress
  • Mobile users are not charged for receiving WEAs and there is no need to subscribe
  • To ensure your device is WEA-capable, check with your service provider

Visit the FEMA Media Library and download these tools:

Emergency Alert System

  • The Integrated Public Alert and Warning System (IPAWS), is a modernization and integration of the nation's existing and future alert and warning systems, technologies, and infrastructure.
  • The Emergency Alert System (EAS) is a national public warning system that requires broadcasters, satellite digital audio service and direct broadcast satellite providers, cable television systems, and wireless cable systems to provide the President with a communications capability to address the American people within 10 minutes during a national emergency.
  • EAS may also be used by state and local authorities, in cooperation with the broadcast community, to deliver important emergency information, such as weather information, imminent threats, AMBER alerts, and local incident information targeted to specific areas.
  • The President has sole responsibility for determining when the national-level EAS will be activated. FEMA is responsible for national-level EAS tests and exercises.
  • EAS is also used when all other means of alerting the public are unavailable, providing an added layer of resiliency to the suite of available emergency communication tools.

Emergency Alert System fact sheet  

NOAA Weather Radio

NOAA Weather Radio All Hazards (NWR) is a nationwide network of radio stations broadcasting continuous weather information from the nearest National Weather Service office.

  • NWR broadcasts official warnings, watches, forecasts and other hazard information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • It also broadcasts alerts of non-weather emergencies such as national security, natural, environmental, and public safety through the Emergency Alert System.

Source: Ready.gov