How to Help Prevent Water Damage
It's important to check household appliances regularly. The simple steps below can help you protect your home from the most common causes of water damage:
- First, know where the main water supply is located in case of emergency.
- If you will be away from home for an extended period, shut off the water supply and drain the pipes. If your home is protected by a fire sprinkler system, do not turn off the water to this system.
- Check the drain lines annually and clean them if they are clogged.
- Inspect water heaters, showers, tubs, toilets, sinks and dishwashers annually, and have them repaired if there are any signs of leaks or corrosion. When possible, install water heaters in areas with floor drains to minimize damage if leaks should occur.
- Check caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilet bases, and make repairs as needed.
- If your refrigerator has an ice machine or water dispenser, the hose between the wall and the refrigerator should be made of braided copper, which has greater cracking and corrosion resistance.
- Check pipes for cracks and leaks. Have pipe damage fixed immediately to prevent more costly repairs in the future.
- Check appliance hoses and plumbing fittings for breakage, crimping or bending.
Have smoke alarms in every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of the home, including the basement.
Smoke alarms are a key part of a home fire escape plan. When there is a fire, smoke spreads fast. Working smoke alarms give you early warning so you can get outside quickly.
- A closed door may slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire. Install smoke alarms in every sleeping room and outside each separate sleeping area. Install alarms on every level of the home. Install alarms in the basement. Smoke alarms should be interconnected. When one sounds, they all sound.
- Large homes may need extra smoke alarms.
- Test all smoke alarms at least once a month. Press the test button to be sure the alarm is working.
- Today’s smoke alarms will be more technologically advanced to respond to a multitude of fire conditions, yet mitigate false alarms.
- A smoke alarm should be on the ceiling or high on a wall. Keep smoke alarms away from the kitchen to reduce false alarms. They should be at least 10 feet (3 meters) from the stove.
- People who are hard-of-hearing or deaf can use special alarms. These alarms have strobe lights and bed shakers.
- Replace all smoke alarms when they are 10 years old.
- Smoke alarms are an important part of a home fire escape plan.
According to National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), 96% of American homes have at least one smoke alarm, no smoke alarms were present or none operated in two out of five (41%) of the reported home fires between 2003-2006. Almost two-thirds of home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
Tens Things You Should Know About MOLD
- Potential health effects and symptoms associated with mold exposures include allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory complaints.
- There is no practical way to eliminate all mold and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.
- If mold is a problem in your home or school, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture.
- Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.
- Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
- Venting bathrooms, dryers and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
- Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
- Increasing ventilation
- Using exhaust fans whenever cooking, dishwashing and cleaning
- Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials and furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
- Clean mold off hard surfaces with water and detergent, and dry completely. Absorbent materials such as ceiling tiles, that are moldy, may need to be replaced.
- Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (i.e., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
- In areas where there is a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (i.e., by drinking fountains, by classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
- Molds can be found almost anywhere; they can grow on virtually any substance, providing moisture is present. There are molds that can grow on wood, paper, carpet, and foods.
The most effective way to manage mold in a building is to eliminate or limit the conditions that foster its establishment and growth. Mold should not be allowed to colonize materials and furnishings in buildings. The underlying moisture condition supporting mold growth should be identified and eliminated. To remediate problematic mold growth, mold should be removed from materials that can be effectively cleaned and materials that cannot be cleaned or are physically damaged beyond use should be discarded. Occupants and workers must be protected from contaminants during remediation. After emergency situations (such as flooding due to hurricanes), to avoid fungal growth on susceptible materials, it is important to dry them quickly.
- Take emergency actions to stop water intrusion if needed.
- Identify vulnerable populations, extent of contamination and water source.
- Plan and implement remediation activities.
The key to prevention in the design and operation of buildings is to limit water and nutrients. The two basic methods for accomplishing that are keeping moisture-sensitive materials dry and, when wetting is likely or unavoidable, using materials that offer a poor substrate for growth. Specifically, design and maintenance strategies must be implemented to manage:
- Rainwater and groundwater, preventing liquid-water entry and accidental humidification of buildings.
- The distribution, use, and disposal of drinking, process, and wash water, making equipment and associated utilities easily accessible for maintenance and repair.
- Water vapor and surface temperatures to avoid accidental condensation.
- The wetting and drying of materials in the building and of soil in crawlspaces during construction.
Tens Things You Should Know To Prevent Kitchen Fires
Did you know the kitchen is where more home fires occur than anywhere else in the house and that cooking is the number one cause of home fires? The American Red Cross has steps everyone can follow to avoid a cooking fire:
1. Never leave cooking food unattended – stay in the kitchen when frying, grilling or broiling food. If you have to leave the kitchen, even for a second, turn off the stove.
2. Check your food regularly while cooking and remain in the home while cooking.
3. Use a timer so you’ll remember that the stove or oven is on.
4. Don’t wear loose clothing or dangling sleeves while cooking.
5. Keep the kids away from the cooking area. Enforce a “kid-free zone” and make them stay at least three feet away from the stove.
6. Keep anything that can catch fire - pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, and towels or curtains—away from your stove, oven or any other appliance in the kitchen that generates heat.
7. Clean cooking surfaces on a regular basis to prevent grease buildup.
8. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen. Contact your local fire department to take training on the proper use of extinguishers.
9. Always check the kitchen before going to bed or leaving the home to make sure all stoves, ovens, and small appliances are turned off.
10. Install a smoke alarm near your kitchen, on each level of your home, near sleeping areas, and inside and outside bedrooms if you sleep with doors closed. Use the test button to check it each month. Replace all batteries at least once a year.
Storm Prevention Tips
Prior to a storm
Remove trees or branches dry during a storm that could fall and cause casualties or damage.
Stay inside the building another 30 minutes after you last hear thunder.
Rules to follow if a storm is imminent
Stop all outdoor activities.
Enter the building or a car. Close windows and doors.
Pipelines can produce electricity. Use wireless phones only in emergency situations. Cordless phones or cell phones are safe to use.
Unplug appliances and other electrical equipment such as computers and air condition. When you feel your hair stand up, is an indication that there is a lightning danger. Sit you squat down. Put your hands on your ears and your head between your knees.
Avoid high objects such as a high tree isolated area open fields, beaches or a boat on the water, any metal objects such as agricultural machinery, farm equipment, motorcycles, bicycles, etc.
If you're in the woods, look for shelter in an area with less tall trees.
If you are in an open area, go to a low area such as a valley.
Difference between WARNING & WATCH
A WATCH means that the potential exists for the development of severe thunderstorms or tornadoes, depending upon the specific type of watch issued. In the case of a tornado watch, this DOES NOT mean that a tornado has been seen or even indicated on radar...it just means that conditions are favorable for the formation of tornadoes in thunderstorms. Similarly, a severe thunderstorm watch means that conditions are just conducive for the development of severe weather, and DOES NOT indicate that severe weather has been reported. While no immediate action on the part of the general public is required for the issuance of a watch, citizens should keep up to date on the current weather situation and be prepared to seek shelter if necessary.
A WARNING, on the other hand, requires more immediate action and should be taken seriously. A severe thunderstorm warning indicates that severe weather is imminent in your area or is already occurring (based on either human observation or doppler radar). The term severe refers to hail greater than or equal to 1.00" in diameter and/or wind gusts that meet or exceed 58 mph. Although these storms can also be associated with dangerous cloud to ground lightning or heavy rainfall that is capable of causing flash flooding, neither of these two items serve as criteria for a severe thunderstorm warning being issued.
Smoking is a leading cause of home fire deaths.
Don't let your world go up in smoke. Home fires ARE preventable and here are a few helpful tips:
- Smoke outside. Many things in your home can catch on fire if they touch something hot like a cigarette or ashes. It is always safer to smoke outside.
- Put cigarettes out all the way. Do this every time. Don’t walk away from lit cigarettes and other smoking materials. Put water on the ashes and butts to make sure they are really out before you put them in the trash.
- Be alert. Do not smoke after taking medicine that makes you tired. You may not be able to prevent or escape from a fire if you are sleepy or have taken medicine that makes you tired.
- Never smoke around medical oxygen. Medical oxygen can explode if a flame or spark is near. Even if the oxygen is turned off, it can still catch on fire.
- Never smoke in bed. Mattresses and bedding can catch on fire easily. Do not smoke in bed because you might fall asleep with a lit cigarette.
- Put your cigarette out in an ashtray or bucket with sand. Use ashtrays with a wide base so they won’t tip over and start a fire.
About half of all home electrical fires involve home electrical wiring
Electrical fires in our homes claim the lives of some 280 Americans each year and injure 1,000 more. Some of these fires are caused by electrical system failures, but many more are caused by incorrectly installed wiring and overloaded circuits and extension cords. FEMA and the U.S. Fire Administration would like you to know that there are simple steps you can take to prevent the loss of life and property resulting from electrical fires.
- Plug only one heat-producing appliance (such as a coffee maker, space heater, or microwave) directly into a wall outlet at a time.
- Extension cords should only be used temporarily. Have an electrician install additional wall outlets where you need them.
- Never use an extension cord with a heat-producing appliance.
- Don’t overload extension cords or wall outlets.
- Check your electrical cords. If they are cracked or damaged, replace them. Don’t try to repair them.
- Use light bulbs that match the recommended wattage on the lamp or fixture.
- Electrical work should only be done by a qualified electrician.
An overflowing toilet presents an immediate problem that you must resolve before the toilet can be used again. You will first need to stop the toilet from overflowing, and address the obstruction in the toilet's drainpipe to prevent it from overflowing again.
Turn off the Water
You will first need to stop the toilet from overflowing by shutting off the toilet's water supply. You will need to locate the toilet's shutoff valve, which normally is located low to the floor behind or next to the toilet. Once you find the valve, turn the handle clockwise as far as you can using your hand. Do not use a wrench or other tool to tighten the handle, or you could damage the handle or valve. If the water continues to flow, you will need to close the house's main water valve, which will shut off all of the water in the house, until you can repair the toilet. Clean up the water on the floor since leaving it can lead to water damage or mold growth.
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