House in Flames: How to Restore and Rejuvenate Your Home after a Fire

House in Flames

Local fire departments respond to over 358,000 residential fires every year, and these disasters can change your life forever. In addition to structural damage, you might find yourself struggling to find important documents and prized personal possessions. While you will no doubt be in a state of shock for at least a short period of time, you need to immediately begin taking steps to restore your home as soon as the fire has been put out.

Contact Your Insurance Provider

Almost all home insurance providers require their clients to notify them of residential fires as soon as reasonably possible. Even if you are not ready to begin dealing with a claims adjuster, you should still speak with your insurance company about getting an advance. An advance can help you cover some of the initial costs such as replacing your clothing and toiletries. You must also track your living expenses during that time if you have a “loss of use” clause in your insurance policy.

Assess the Damage

Assessing the damage is one of the most difficult steps in this process, and making any mistakes on your claim could end up costing you quite a bit of money. That is why all homeowners should immediately invest in a binder or folder to store all of the information regarding the fire. As you remember new possessions that were in the home or the fire department notifies you of specific damage, that information must immediately go into the folder.

Account for Personal Belongings

Your home insurance most likely includes a clause regarding personal possessions that are damaged in a fire. Unlike the structural damage that will be assessed by the claims adjuster or an inspector, you will most likely need to estimate the price of your personal possessions that were lost. You should begin with some of the more expensive items that you had in your home including your furniture and appliances. Many of the smaller items like your clothing and decorations will most likely be lumped into a single payment from the insurance company.

Speak With a Fire Restoration Specialist

Depending on the severity of the fire, you might prefer to work with a fire restoration specialist instead of having your home completely rebuilt. Some companies, like Icon Property, know that many homeowners must speak with a variety of contractors to determine if it will be more economical to rebuild or restore. Most homes can be restored if the fire didn’t damage any of the key structural components such as the foundation or load-bearing walls.

Once you are finally able to move back into your home, you want to be absolutely sure that your family will remain safe in the coming years. You must install new smoke alarms and fire detectors throughout your home and then test them as often as possible. You should also have an escape plan in place so that your family knows exactly what to do in the event of an emergency.

Be Prepared: 4 Essential Plans For Facing A Natural Disaster

Be Prepared 4 Essential Plans For Facing A Natural Disaster

There are many different types of natural disasters so try to prepare a general plan for emergencies, and think of different ways to use it. For example, take into account that you may be at work or traveling when the natural disaster occurs. Grabbing your family photo albums won’t be possible in that scenario. Use these tips as a guideline to create a customized plan for your own home and situation.

Windstorms and Tornadoes

If you have time to evacuate, do so quickly. As a backup plan, your home should have a safe room, or at least a safe area, where you can quickly take shelter. Tornadoes may be the hardest natural disaster to prepare for because, after they pass you may find that nothing you own is where you left it. If you can create a safe room be sure to keep your emergency kit there too.

Floods

If you wake up in the middle of the night to a flooded bedroom what would you do? If you live in a flood plain know the location of the nearest high-water shelter. Put together a waterproof bin with essentials items in it. If a bin is too unwieldy, pack everything into a backpack, which you can carry safely, and stay hands-free. Whatever is left behind can be cleaned up with a service, such as NiteOwl Restoration.

Earthquakes

Until the weather service better discovers how to predict these people will be surprised by them. Often an earthquake is the precursor to other dangers, like mudslides and fires. A good emergency plan would be to keep a backpack with essentials in it, such as a first aid kit, water, snacks, a flashlight, some cash or a debit card, and pet food. Keep one at home and one in your car. Expect that cell phone services and emergency providers will be overloaded after an earthquake, or other natural disasters, so try to be self-reliant.

Fires

Like tornadoes, a wildfire may leave you with nothing to return to. And you may need to evacuate at a moment’s notice. The important thing is to get the whole family to safety. Focus on having evacuation-backpacks, or bins, already packed up with important items. If these are ready to go, it will help to reduce panic and stress. Once you reach safety contact friends and family with your status and location.

Don’t count on a stash of supplies as a solution. Depending on the natural disaster it may all go to waste. Rather, put together an evacuation kit that will help you recover from a disaster. Be sure to practice executing your disaster plan with your family. Also, make a backup plan because your vehicle may break down, or your escape route may be blocked. These are the important things to consider when facing a natural disaster.

4 Safety Hazards That Your Home Might Have & You Don’t Even Know It

Even if you have a relatively new home, there might be more dangers lurking on your property than you realize. Everything from contaminants in the air to damaged appliances can pose a major risk to you and your family, and that is why it is so important to be vigilant around the home. Here is a closer look at four common dangers and what you can do to take care of them.

4 Safety Hazards That Your Home Might Have and You Don't Even Know It

Damaged Pipes

Not only will a small leak cause an incredible amount of damage in a short period of time, but it can also be a major health risk to all residents. Within just a few days, standing water creates problems such as mold, mildew, and pest infestations. Anyone who believes that they may have broken pipes in their home should keep a close eye on their water bill to see if there are any fluctuations. They should also have a professional, like those at HELP Plumbing, Heating, Cooling and Electric, come check the situation out. Many plumbers offer affordable inspections to test pipes for leaks or other forms of damage.

Dirty Ducts

Dirty air ducts can cause a wide variety of serious health complications including chronic congestion, severe allergies, and respiratory infections. That is why most specialists suggest that families should have their ducts professionally cleaned at least once or twice a year to dislodge any lingering debris. It is also important to change one’s air filters at least a few times a year to improve the efficiency of the system and prevent dust from getting into one’s home.

Old Water Heaters

Modern water heaters have many different safety features, but they can still become dangerous when they are not properly cared for. Issues such as sediment collecting in the bottom of the reservoir or the pilot light going out can put a family in danger. Much like your HVAC system, you should consider having your water heater serviced by an experienced plumber once a year. Servicing the water heater will also improve its efficiency and extend its lifespan.

Radon

Radon is a radioactive gas that can eventually cause lung cancer if an individual is exposed to it for a long period of time. Radon is completely invisible and odorless, and that is why all homeowners should install radon detectors throughout their property. The easiest way to clear radon out of a home is to make sure that all rooms have good ventilation.

Those who are considering carrying out major home renovations to mitigate these risks should speak with experienced contractors to explore their options. Trying to complete these projects on your own could impact your home insurance policy and potentially violate local safety regulations.

5 Ways To Improve the Security Of Your Front Door

exterior-door

The front door is the most likely point of entry for any home break-in. That means this needs to be the strongest part of your home security. There are many ways to increase the security of your front door, some of which are almost imperceptible. Other protections are costly and may affect the look and feel of the home. With such a wide range of options, there is no excuse to leave your home exposed, and there is no reason to spend a fortune making improvements. If you are renting, make sure to speak with your landlord before making any changes, no matter how small you think they are.

  1. Longer Screws

One of the simplest and most noninvasive ways to improve the security of your front door is to use longer screws to fasten your door hinges and strike plates. Most standard locks are installed with screws that are an inch, or maybe even an inch and a half, in length. This bites into the wood enough for alignment and functionality purposes, but it does not offer much security.

With just a three-inch screw, you are securing the strike and hinges to the wall stud. A screw that is biting into a stud will stand up to a significant amount of force beyond a simple set screw. This helps to prevent against kicking attacks on both the hinge and doorjamb sides of the door.

  1. Use the Right Lock

A front door should always use at least one deadbolt in addition to a keyed knob or handle. The deadbolt is immune to the widely known credit card method of surreptitious entry. When the bolt is thrown, it is not retractable without a key or a thumbturn on the interior of the door. This is different from the spring latch in a keyed doorknob, which can be depressed even while in the locked position.

If there is any glass on or around the door, it is very important to use a double-sided deadbolt. These deadbolts do not have a thumbturn, and require the use of a key when locking and unlocking from both inside and outside the home. Even if a criminal were to smash the glass near a double-sided deadbolt, they could not gain entry any easier. High-security locks are also necessary to prevent against more advanced forms of illegal entry, such as lock picking and bump keys. Make sure that lock installation is done correctly or the security of the lock will be diminished. In lieu of installing new locks, homeowners can also rekey locks (if they already have a deadbolt in place) to maximize their home security.

door

  1. Add Metal

In order to install a door lock, several holes must be cut into the wood of the door. These holes are not completely filled by metal, and therefore leave vulnerable areas, which a susceptible to violent entry attacks. This means the area of your door that holds the lock hardware is actually a weak point in the door. By placing metal sleeves around that area, these points cannot be as easily compromised.

The same is true for the doorjamb, which will almost always have a simple small metal strike plate to hold the latch and/or bolt of your locks. By having this strike plate be longer, and secured throughout the length of the jamb, the door is secured against forced entry. Some of these products are hidden by the closed door, so these measures do not need to change the look of your home.

  1. Better Door Composition

If you secure your hinges, hardware, and the doorjamb, then there is still the concern of the door itself breaking. All doors are not created equal. For exterior doors, and especially front doors, you need a product with a solid core. These doors are heavier, as they use more material and stronger wood in their construction.

For additional security, there are steel core doors, and even iron core doors, which add metal content to the door itself. The addition of a new door would be the most costly and visually dramatic change proposed so far, but it is a must if the wrong type of door has already been installed.

house-exterior

  1. Security Screens

A security screen changes the look of your home from the exterior, but it provides a vast range of protection. Firstly, it will have more locks installed, which is an obstacle for anyone trying to bump or pick the locks. There is also another door, which is made out of metal, so forced entry is going to take at least twice as long as it would with just a standard door.

Residents can also open their door to see who is outside, without exposing themselves to a threat. And opposed to traditional woven screen doors, there is still a layer of security if you would like to leave your front door open for some fresh air.

Tips for Renters:

If you are renting, it is not so simple to make changes to the home. Often you will need to suggest your ideas to the landlord, who will then make the final decision. So it is important that you have been acting in compliance with what your landlord wants. Try not to be difficult or demanding. You are trying to present a solution, not a problem. So find a solution that works for your needs, and that you believe your landlord would be open to. For example, you may know that they do not like changes that alter the look of the home. So you would not suggest overly visible changes such as a security screen or new door.

Come to them with a full proposal. If you force them to come up with their own answers, the process will be much slower. The less work you make for them, the better chances of a quick and positive response. Who you want to pay for the changes will also affect your success. If you are looking to pass the cost onto the landlord, the offer to only charge the cost of materials will be more appealing than including the cost of labor. Try to anticipate their issues, and appeal to them on matters they care about. For example, even attempted burglary would result in many replacement costs as well as insurance issues, and general repairs. Be personable, and try to be positive.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief Guide to Home Fire Prevention and Safety

A Brief Guide to Home Fire Prevention and Safety

The statistics are chilling: every year, home fires destroy 7 million dollars’ worth of property and end the lives of more than two thousand people. Luckily, the deaths caused by home fires are becoming fewer, but the numbers are still exceptionally high, especially when you consider the fact that these deaths are so easily preventable. We offer you a brief but useful guide to home safety which will help you prevent fire in your home, and even if there is a fire, the damage will be minimized.

Smoke detectors save lives

First and foremost: smoke detectors should be mandatory in every home. When it comes to home fires, fire alarms are the number one reason the lives of people are saved in the first place. According to National Fire Protection Association, three out of five deaths from home fires happened in homes that don’t have smoke alarms or any kind of alarm. Even if there is a smoke alarm in your home, go through a little bit of trouble and check if it’s working properly. Sometimes, something as simple as a dead battery, no battery, or some sort of malfunction can cause the alarm to fail. Regularly check up on your smoke alarms and make sure the ‘test’ button is working. Also, your smoke alarms should be replaced approximately every ten years.

Smoke detectors save lives

Fire extinguishers at hand

Having a fire extinguisher in your home is necessary, but it is equally (or even more so) important to know how to use it at the right moment. Not every fire that can occur should be extinguished with an extinguisher. In fact, they have been made to use only on very small and contained fires like the ones in a pot on the stove or in a wastebasket. If you have a large fire, your number one priority shouldn’t be to grab an extinguisher, but to get everyone out of the house and away from the danger. At least one extinguisher should be present on every level of your home, and they should be kept in rooms where the probability of a fire is highest. This means the kitchen and the garage, but also hallways. So, if you notice a fire, don’t try being a hero: lead your family out of the house first and only then try to extinguish the fire or call the firefighters.

Home Fire Prevention and Safety

Escape ladders in every room

This is rather simple: if your home has more than one story or a basement with window wells, you should have fire escape ladders on hand. If you have window wells, you will get a plain metal ladder, approximately 5 feet tall, which you can plant in the ground a few inches, and use hooks to secure them on the wall. For other rooms in the house you will need “standoffs” – simple, small protrusions which should hold the ladder rungs away from the house and allow your foot to move down more easily because you will have enough space not to slip. When it comes to lengths, fire safety services recommend that you use standard length ranges for upper floors: 13-15 feet for the second, and 23-25 feet for the third. Before you make your purchase and rely on these, make sure they are marked as load tested load tested for at least 1,000 pounds.

Household fires are serious business

Household fires are serious business, and before firefighters come and rescue you all, you can do a lot to protect yourself and your family. Being aware that there’s a possibility of fire is simply not enough, you should prepare and do whatever you can to protect your family and your home and lower the odds of firefighters ever having to risk their lives trying to save you.

Author bio:

Diana smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to latest DIY projects and home décor. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.