Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Emergency Preparedness Tips

I woke up this morning to the news of a 4.5 magnitude earthquake about an hour north of us.  This has been the 4th earthquake in the past month in that general area.

I had to ask myself that if the 'big one' were to hit or any other type of disaster, would me and my family be prepared, and to be honest, the answer would be no.  After doing some research, I am not the only one who is not prepared. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than half of Americans aren’t prepared.  That's a scarey thought!   I thought I would take a moment and remind everyone, including myself, about how important it is to have a Family Disaster Plan and Kit.

Being the handyman that I am I want to stress how important it is to make sure that your home and its contents are safe.  Some important items to include in your plan/kit are: 

   Make sure to have an evacuation plan with your family including a designated safe place to meet.

  Appoint a family member to turn off electricity, gas and water, if needed.  

 Have copies of important family documents such as insurance policies, ID’s, passports, bank account records.  Store these in a waterproof, portable container.   

 It’s estimated that 42% of phone owners do not know all their immediate family members’ telephone number.  Make sure to write down everyone’s phone numbers as well as other emergency contacts such as a neighbor, family doctor or an out of town friend or relative.  Don’t count on your cell phone to work during a disaster.        

 Identify potential hazards around your home and get them fixed.  This should include making sure  that all furniture, TV's appliances, bookshelves, items on shelves, lamps etc…are securely fastened to the wall or shelf using safety straps.  This is an easy and inexpensive fix that I highly recommend.

 Make sure your water heater is securely attached to wall studs.     

 If you have gas appliances, it’s a good idea to bolt them down as a broken gas line can become a fire hazard.    

 Make sure all CO and smoke alarms are in working order.  Batteries should be replaced at least once a year at the minimum.  I recommend doing this on January 1st of each year, and then it’s easy to remember when it was done. 

 It’s always a good idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand and that everyone in your household knows how to operate it.         

 Store hazardous liquids, paint, cleaners on lower shelves to help reduce the risk of spilling.  This is also a good idea for breakable items.           

Make sure to have a disaster kit that includes water, non-perishable food including canned (don’t forget the can opener), portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries, a first aid kit, medications, etc.  Having a generator is very important as well.  Make sure your disaster kit includes all necessities for your pets including water, food, leashes, etc.

Besides whats listed above, this kit should also include items such as matches, duct tape, rope, emergency blankets, gloves, and change of clothes, hard soled shoes and candles.        

 I would also include a cell phone charger in your kit as well.  I read that they have emergency crank or battery operated cell phone chargers too, which I plan on looking into.       

 Another tip that I have been trying to do on a regular basis is keeping our vehicles fueled up.  Get in the habit of filling up as soon as your tank reaches the half way point.      

 And finally, have cash on hand.  If there is a disaster of any kind and the power goes down, stores, gas stations, etc. will not be able to take debit and credit cards; ATM's will not work  Having some cash stashed away for emergency use only is always a good idea.

Being prepared is the key to survival.  Do everything you can to prepare for any type of emergency before it’s too late and don’t forget to call your local handyman to help with some of the items on the list if you find that you just don't have time.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Fall is just around the corner and the cooler air outside means goodbye summer! The next few weeks are a good time to get outside and provide some important maintenance to your property.
As the weather grows colder,  and the days get shorter here in Marin and Sonoma county, it’s important to start preparing for the fall and winter months ahead by completing your outdoor home maintenance chores.  

I have listed some fall preventative home maintenance tips that every homeowner should follow:

Gutters should be cleaned at least once a year to rid them of clogs from damp, heavy, fallen leaves. Gutters that are not properly cleaned are havens for insect infestations. Clogged gutters can also lead to much more costly repairs due to water damage and wood rot. 

Windows and doors can cost you lots of money on your heating bills. You don't have to replace your windows and doors, but just by simply replacing seals and caulking around them can help improve on your energy costs.  

If you have a fireplace or wood burning stove, you want to make sure that they have been thoroughly cleaned and inspected before use. This should also be done annually before you start burning wood. Make sure that the chimney is also free from excessive creosote, which could lead to chimney fires.

Before the cold weather sets in for the winter, it's important to be sure to inspect all of your duct work and your heating system. Be sure to also open up the vents and vacuum out any debris. Change your filters before firing up your furnace for the first time this year.
Be sure to check your roof for any leaks or missing tiles. You will want to replace the problem tiles and/or shingles that need to be replaced, and patch any holes to help prevent further damage from the wet winter weather.
It is also important to make sure all wood decks, fences and outbuildings have been properly stained and sealed for the seasonal weather.

Finally, fall is also a good time of the year to do any interior painting. Give your walls a fresh new look.  If you have dull, dark rooms in your home, this is the time to brighten them up with a fresh new coat of paint.