Archive for Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Keep your home, family safe after winter storm

December 27, 2006

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So the winds have died down, but you're still without power. Here are some tips to help in the aftermath of a storm:

¢ Keep your refrigerator and freezer doors shut as much as possible, to keep the cold air inside. Refrigerated foods should be safe to eat as long as the power is out no more than a few hours and the doors have been kept closed, according to Public Health - Seattle & King County.

¢ A full freezer can stay at freezing temperatures for about two days and a half-full freezer for about a day.

¢ If the power looks like it will be out for several days, try to find some ice to pack inside your fridge.

¢ If the power is out, turn off all your appliances save for a single lamp to avoid a circuit overload when electricity is restored. Don't leave candles, oil lamps or other open flames unattended.

¢ Do not operate gasoline-powered machinery such as generators indoors (including inside your garage) or improvise ways to cook inside your home.

¢ If you use a generator, the Red Cross advises you to connect the equipment you want to power directly to the outlets on the generator.

¢ If your home or property is damaged, contact your insurance agent or company to file a claim immediately. Take pictures and document the damage.

If safe to do so, make temporary repairs to prevent further damage from rain or wind and save all receipts for reimbursement. Use only licensed, reputable building contractors, and make sure they get the proper permits.

Some tips from the NW Insurance Council:

¢ Don't pay a lot for temporary repairs unless authorized by your insurance adjuster. You could get stuck with the bill if the repairs are deemed excessive.

¢ If you decide to do repairs yourself, put on proper equipment for the job: sturdy boots to protect against sharp objects, eye protection to guard your eyes from flying debris and gloves to protect your hands.

Out and about

¢ The Humane Society of the United States recommends having a pet carrier handy so you are able to transport your pets in a pinch, or at least provide them a safe haven.

¢ When out and about, keep cash in your wallet, since ATMs may be out of service and some stores may not be able to run credit cards.

¢ Call ahead to make sure your destinations (shopping malls, schools, banks, gyms, etc.) are open to save yourself a trip.

Cold weather tips

These steps are recommended to help prevent costly damage and repairs to your home during below-freezing temperatures:

¢ Shut off all outside faucets exposed to the weather.

¢ Install insulated covers on all outside water faucets.

¢ Cover all exposed pipes with insulation material.

¢ Shut off water service to vacant homes if the heat can't be kept on.

¢ When you are away -if you have power - make sure the heat is set no lower than 55 degrees.

¢ Open cabinet doors below the sink so warm air can circulate around the pipes during extremely cold weather.

¢ When the temperature dips below freezing, open a faucet and run a small trickle of water to keep your water pipes from freezing. The cost of running extra water will be much less than the cost of repairing broken pipes.

¢ Open doors to cabinets located on exterior walls to expose water pipes to warmer room temperatures.

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