Recent Storm Damage Posts

MAY IS NATIONAL BUILDING SAFETY MONTH

5/1/2019 (Permalink)

Source: iccsafe.org

Building Safety Month— in its 39th year—is an initiative of the International Code Council (ICC) and their 64,000 members across the world, as well as their partners in building construction and design, and the safety community. Building Safety Month is an opportunity to educate insurance and commercial property professionals, as well as the general public, on “what it takes to create safe, resilient, affordable, and energy efficient homes and buildings,” according to the ICC website.

The theme for 2019 is No Code. No Confidence. and highlights managing disasters, specifically natural disasters, in week one of this year’s campaign.

Some of the topics and tips shared throughout the month include disaster preparedness, construction professionals, and innovations in building safety.

The general public may not be aware how codes and code officials “improve and protect the places where we live, learn, work, worship and play,” and this month can certainly improve that awareness!

IMPORTANT TIPS FROM THE ICC

Disaster Safety & Mitigation

  • If you live in a high wind or hurricane prone area and do not have tested and code-approved shutters for protection from windborne debris, consider temporarily protecting your doors and windows by mounting exterior grade, 7/16" minimum thickness plywood and fastening it into place. Visit www.flash.org for detailed instructions on how to use plywood for emergency board-up.
  • Consider building or retrofitting to create a tornado-safe room in your home. Follow ICC/ NSSA 500 Standard for detailed construction information and to ensure you achieve the highest level of protection for your family.
  • In wildfire prone areas, remove fine (dead grass, leaves, etc.) and coarse fuels (dead twigs, branches, etc.) within 30 feet of a building to create a survivable space in case of wildfire. Be sure to remove dry leaf and pine litter from roofs, rain gutters, decks, and walkways. Follow ICC’s International Wildland-Urban Interface Code® for detailed requirements.
  • Flooded roads could have significant damage hidden by floodwaters. Never drive through floodwaters or on flooded roads. Do not attempt to cross a flowing stream. It takes only six inches of fast flowing water to sweep you off your feet and two feet of water to move an SUV-sized vehicle.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Prevent Frozen Pipes

1/10/2019 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

Frozen water exerts thousands of pounds of pressure per square inch on a pipe and can burst it, causing flooding and major damage to your business. Extensive water damage can also occur as a result of frozen pipes in sprinkler systems during extended power outages in freezing weather.

Preventing Frozen Pipes

Guidance for reducing the risk of pipes freezing:

  • Provide a reliable back-up power source, such as a stand by generator, to ensure continuous power to the building.
  • Install a monitoring system with notifications if the building’s temperature dips below a pre-determined number.
  • Insulate recessed light fixtures in the ceiling to reduce heat entering the attic. Look for visible light inside the attic. If present, insulate or seal. If the space above a suspended ceiling is conditioned, there is no need for added insulation or sealing.
  • Insulate and properly seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases, and access doors, and all doors and windows.
  • Seal all wall cracks and penetrations including domestic and fire protection lines, electrical conduit and other utility service lines.
  • Sprinkler systems should be consistently monitored by a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure.
  • Install insulation and/or heat trace tape connected to a reliable power source on parts of wet sprinkler system piping. This includes main lines coming up from underground passing through a wall as well as sprinkler branch lines.
  • UL-approved gas or electric unit heaters can be installed in unheated sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms. If back up power is provided, the heaters should also be connected to this power source.
  • A monitored automatic excess flow switch can be placed on the main incoming domestic water line to provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve when the business is closed.

Peace of Mind

Although it seems as if our winters are longer and colder, the winter weather business protection tips described above can help give you piece of mind during the winter months. We believe that implementing these tips can greatly reduce a building’s potential structural loss and loss of business operations due to large snow falls, freezing temperatures and power outages during these times.

8 Ways to Prevent Frozen Pipe Damage for a Business

  1. Seal Exterior: Seal all cracks, holes, windows, doors and other openings on exterior walls with caulk or insulation to prevent cold air from penetrating wall cavities.
  2. Seal Interior: Insulate and seal attic penetrations such as partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, and electrical and mechanical chases.
  3. Relieve Pipe Pressure: Let all faucets drip during extreme cold weather to prevent freezing of the water inside the pipe, and if freezing does occur, to relieve pressure buildup in the pipes between the ice blockage and the faucet.
  4. Keep the Building Warm: Install a monitoring system that provides notifications if the building's temperature dips below a pre-determined number.
  5. Insulate Vulnerable Pipes: Insulate pipes most vulnerable to freezing by using pipe insulation.
  6. Install Early Detection System: Install an automatic excess flow switch on the main incoming water line to monitor and provide early detection of a broken pipe or valve.  Use wireless sensors near water sources.
  7. Monitor Fire Protection Sprinkler Systems: Monitor sprinkler systems using a central station to provide early detection of a pipe failure and heat unheated sprinkler control rooms.
  8. Install Backup Power: Provide a reliable backup power source to ensure heat to the building.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Commercial Roof Snow Load & Ice Dam Risks

12/17/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

When it comes to the weight of snow, the type of snow is as important as the depth of snow. Fresh “powder” type snow is typically lighter than wet packed snow. Ice is heavier than snow. During the winter months, a roof system can be exposed to all three combinations over a several month period.

General guidelines to help estimate the weight of snow:

  • Fresh snow: 10-12 inches of new snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space.
  • Packed snow generally is heavier than new snow: 3-5 inches of old snow is equal to one inch of water, again about 5 lbs per square foot of roof space.
  • Ice is also heavier than snow. One inch equals about a foot of fresh snow.
  • The total amount of accumulated snow and ice is what matters in evaluating snow load risk. For example, the accumulated weight of two feet of old snow and two feet of new snow could be as high as 60 lbs per square foot of roof space, which may stress the limits of even the best designed roof.

If you are in the “danger zone” according to chart above or if the loads you estimate based on the thickness of the various types of snow and ice exceed 20-25 psf, you should consider having the snow removed from your roof.

Preventing Roof Collapse

Factors that could dictate how your particular facility will perform under the weight of ice and snow. These factors are listed below, which includes engineering considerations that could help you avoid roof collapses this winter.

  • Live and dead load design;
  • Age of the building and the roof;
  • Condition of the roof;
  • Elevation;
  • Maintenance during or after a major snow storm

Addressing Roof Strength

If it is determined that the roof system is not adequately designed to withstand the snow falls being encountered, a building owner should consider strengthening the roof as soon as possible or before the next winter. A structural engineer can determine the maximum loads your roof can withstand, as well as provide practical solutions to improve the strength of your roof.

Snow Removal

Safe snow removal may reduce some of the snow load on your roof. Consider contracting with a professional for snow removal. If your workers will be removing snow keep the guidelines below in mind. To avoid roof collapse, snow removal should begin prior to reaching the snow load limit of the roof.

Always follow Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) Regulations and Standards, particularly fall protections for roof work. Avoid using shovels or snow blowers. Instead, use a heavy duty push broom with stiff bristles or roof rake to brush off the snow down the slope of the roof. For most single-story buildings with steep sloped roofs, a roof rake may be used for while remaining on the ground to pull snow down the roof slope. Do not pull snow back against the slope or sideways since the snow may get underneath the cover and can break shingles.

Ice Dam Risks

Ice dams are ridges of ice that form at the edge of a roof and prevent melting snow (water) from draining off your roof. The water that backs up behind this “dam” can leak into your business and cause damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas. Additionally, when the roof doesn’t drain properly, snow, ice, and water remains trapped on the roof, adding loads that put your roof at greater risk.

Preventing Ice Dams

IBHS offers the following guidance to help prevent damage from ice dams:

  • Increase insulation above ceilings.
  • Create a roof preventative maintenance, including periodic roof drainage inspections.
  • Install self-regulating heating cables on gutters, downspouts, and around roof drains.
  • Keep all drains, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts free of debris and vegetation.
  • Prune trees that may hang over the roof to prevent an accumulation of tree leaves and branches that may clog or slow roof drainage.
  • Improve ventilation. Consider installing electric power vents with thermostats.

Removing Ice Dams

We do not recommend chipping or breaking ice dams because this can damage the roof. The following guidance is for the most common types of commercial roof systems.

Steep Sloped Roof Systems:

  • If the building has a history of ice dams, remove the snow to reduce the risk.
  • If the building is too tall to reach with a roof rake from the ground, hire a roofing professional. For more information, please see Selecting a Roofing Professional.
  • Remove or relocate heat sources that are installed in open areas directly under the roof.
  • Increase ventilation in attic spaces:
    • New gable roofs: Soffit/ridge vents provide good ventilation.
    • Gable end vents: place an electric fan over vents to increase the flow of air.
    • Hip roofs: Box or static vents are practical improvements.
  • Insulate recessed light fixtures in the ceiling to reduce heat entering the attic. Look for visible light inside the attic. If present, insulate or seal.
  • Insulate or seal all attic penetrations: partition walls, vents, plumbing stacks, electric and mechanical chases and access doors.
  • New roof installation: Seal the roof deck using at least two layers of underlayment cemented together or a self-adhering polymer modified bitumen sheet. Extend the moisture barrier at least 24 inches from the edge of the eaves to beyond the inside of the exterior wall.

Flat, Monoslope and Low Sloped Roof Systems:

  • Flat roofs are particularly vulnerable to water leaks if ice dams keep water from flowing into roof drains. Removing the snow will remove the source of a potential ice dam.
  • Drains:
    • If ice dams form around drains, place heating cables on the roof and connect the cables to the drains to create a path for the melting ice to follow.
    • Consider installing heating cables in a zigzag manner inside gutters.
    • If there is extensive ice build-up around the drains, consult a roofing professional.
  • When the roof is dry, inspect the roof cover. Look for mold, mildew and vegetation, all of which are signs of a problem with the slope of the roof cover system and drainage. A roofing professional can advise you about re-pitching the roof cover.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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5 Ways to Winterize and Holiday-Proof Your Commercial Property

11/23/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://disastersafety.org

For many small businesses, the holiday/ winter weather season is when they will earn a significant part of their revenue for the entire year. For others, it is a time when they will close for a short break or long winter hiatus. Regardless of your business model, preparing for the holidays and winter season can help prevent problems caused by indoor hazards or winter weather.

1. DECORATE SAFELY

  • Choose decorations wisely. Some may be combustible and should be kept away from any heat or ignition sources.
  • Use battery-operated candles in place of traditional ones.
  • Never hang decorations from fire sprinklers or block them—this can prevent sprinklers from operating properly.
  • Do not cover emergency exit signs, fire extinguishers or fire alarms with decorations; also avoid overcrowding aisles or cluttering any place that would make it difficult to exit in an emergency.
  • Do not place extension cords in high-traffic areas of your workplace, or under rugs, carpets or furniture.
  • Promote safe ladder use. This can help protect both employees and customers.
  • Turn off all indoor and outdoor electrical decorations before leaving the building.

2. PREPARE FOR CLOSING

  • Inform customers in advance if you’ll be closing for the holidays or a longer seasonal break.
  • Update your company website to reflect closing details. Shut down any unnecessary office equipment.
  • Secure your building and set alarms. Advise your security company that you will be vacating the property. Verify/update emergency contact information they have on file.
  • Consider hiring a patrol service to conduct recorded rounds while inspecting the premises at different times of day and night to reduce the threat of vandalism and theft.

3. PROTECT AGAINST FREEZING

  • Thermostats should be maintained at a minimum of 55°F when the building is unoccupied.
  • For early detection of a broken pipe or valve, consider installing a monitored electric leak detection system for the main domestic water line. Monitored electronic sensors can also be installed near water sources for early leak detection.
  • Run a small trickle of water to keep pipes from freezing.
  • Open cabinet and utility room doors to expose pipes to warmer room temperatures to help keep them from freezing.
  • Ensure all pipes located in vulnerable areas, such as crawlspaces, exterior walls, attics and unheated basements, are insulated with sleeves or wrapping. The more insulation you have, the better. Hardware and big box stores usually carry foam or fiberglass insulation.
  • UL-approved gas or electric unit heaters can be installed in unheated sprinkler control valve/fire pump rooms.
  • Indoor and outdoor fire protection sprinkler systems should be monitored by a constantly attended central station to provide early detection of a sprinkler pipe rupture due to freezing. At minimum, if your business is not located close to where you live or are spending the winter, have someone check the property to ensure the heat is working and the pipes have not frozen. 

4. READY THE ROOF

  • If the building will be unoccupied for a prolonged period, safely clear the roof of all debris, dirt and leaves, which can block gutters and downspouts. Debris buildup can prevent snow melt from properly draining away from the building and can cause ice dams and heavy snow buildup on your roof.
  • Inspect gutters/downspouts for securement. Heavy snow/ ice can cause gutters to weaken and sag, leading them to break away from the building and allow for water intrusion.
  • If a winter storm occurs during a holiday or seasonal break, arrange for snow removal for employee access and plan to have a professional remove any excess snow from the roof. This will prevent excessive loads on the roof which could cause structural failure.

CONCLUSION

The winter holidays should be a time for businesses to reflect on past challenges and accomplishments, and make plans to prosper in the New Year. But at the same time, it is important to take steps to prevent injury or damage that can be caused by risks that are unique to this season. Doing so now can provide a head start on New Year’s resolutions to strengthen your business in 2019.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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11 Ways To Avoid Hurricane Damage

9/22/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/11-ways-to-avoid-hurricane-damage-1.aspx

Author: CRAIG GUILLOT

The tremendous power of a hurricane can turn a home inside out and leave it in ruins. But you can minimize the potential for damage, cut the cost of your home insurance now and save on repairs later with the help of many readily available home improvement products.

And you want to get to work before it’s too late.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA, is predicting eight to 13 named storms during the 2014 Atlantic hurricane season. Three to six of those storms could become hurricanes, including one or two major hurricanes with winds in excess of 110 mph.

Bracing your home for what the season might bring doesn’t have to be expensive.

“Homeowners may get discounts for things such as hurricane shutters, various types of roof coverings and the way the roof is attached to the structure,” says Claire Wilkinson, a blogger for the trade group the Insurance Information Institute. 

Top products for storm protection

  • Plywood.
  • Fabric panels.
  • Hurricane straps.
  • Flood barriers.
  • Storm panels.
  • Roll-down hurricane shutters.
  • Colonial shutters.
  • Accordion shutters.
  • Bahama shutters.
  • Garage door braces.
  • Hurricane glass.

“There are a lot of things you can do (to your home) that are meaningful, affordable and make a difference,” adds Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH.

Here are several ways to avoid costly hurricane damage.

Plywood

A sheet of plywood and a handful of nails have stood out as one of the most popular ways to prepare for a storm. Homeowners typically “board up” a day or two before and attach 5/8-inch or 1/2-inch plywood to the windows of their homes.

  • Cost: Material costs vary by location and season, but a 4-by-8-foot sheet of 5/8-inch plywood typically runs $20 to $30. Depending on home size and number of windows, total material costs could run $275 to $750.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: Plywood is very effective for protecting from flying debris, and it’s easy for “do-it-yourselfers.” You can find the materials at any home improvement store. Plywood is relatively inexpensive and, if stored properly, can be used from season to season.
  • Cons: Working with plywood can be time-consuming and may require a helping hand for those with two-story homes. Installation may involve drilling holes in siding and bricks. Once windows are boarded, the home becomes very dark.

Fabric panels

Polymer-based, hurricane-strength fabric panels add trampoline-like cushion to windows and doors and repel flying debris without sacrificing visibility in a storm. Panels are anchored to the edges of windows and doorways with grommets and wing nuts or clips and pins, making them easy to install.

  • Cost: Approximately $5 to $15 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: The panels can easily be installed and removed, then rolled up and stored in a compact space. Most are translucent and allow for visibility through windows.
  • Cons: Professional installation is normally required.

Hurricane straps

Most homes are built to hold the roof up, not down. To correct for the upward and lateral lifting forces of hurricane winds, builders install hurricane straps, clips and anchor belts, which can help keep a home’s roof intact. In a correct setup, galvanized straps securely attached to the walls and foundation keep the roof tied into the entire house.

  • Cost: Inexpensive hurricane straps sell for as little as 50 cents apiece, usually by the box or in coils. A typical home could require hundreds of straps.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: When installed properly on a new home, hurricane straps drastically reduce the threat of roof failure in high winds. They are easy to install on new homes.
  • Cons: Retrofitting straps on an existing home can be difficult, time-consuming and expensive.

Flood barriers

While there is little a homeowner can do to prepare for a hurricane’s 20-foot storm surge on the coast, there are several products that can help protect inland residents from minor flooding. Sandbags remain the least expensive option (many counties give them away for free), but they are heavy and it takes hundreds of bags and lots of help to make a solid barrier around a home. Other types of flood barriers include powder-filled absorbent door dams, water-filled tubes, expanding bags and portable walls that can be quickly deployed in the event of a flood.

  • Cost: The price varies from a couple hundred dollars up to tens of thousands of dollars to completely surround a home, depending on product and protection level.
  • Effect on insurance: None.
  • Pros: Barriers are effective in preventing minor floodwaters from entering the home. Some products are easy to install and can be deployed just before a storm.
  • Cons: The products can be expensive and time-consuming to deploy, and they’re ineffective if floodwaters rise above the height of the barrier.

Storm panels

Corrugated steel or aluminum shutters bolted over your windows and doors are one of the best ways to protect a home from flying debris. Storm panels vary in thickness and attach to window exteriors with a system of tracks and bolts. When tracks are installed permanently around the house, the shutters can be attached quickly and easily when a storm is approaching.

  • Cost: Prices for steel or aluminum storm panels run from $7 to $15 per foot of coverage.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: One of the most inexpensive permanent shutter systems, the panels are strong and can protect from almost any flying debris. Can be deployed quickly before a storm and removed quickly afterward.
  • Cons: Panels require a large space for storage. They can be difficult to install, depending on the size of windows and number of stories on your home, and you may need extra help. Some shutters have sharp edges.

Roll-down hurricane shutters

With the push of a button or the crank of a handle, roll-down hurricane shutters are the easiest home protectors to deploy before a storm. The shutters are typically made of double-walled aluminum slats that interlock, and they roll up into a narrow box that sits above the window or doorway. Available in all sizes and colors, they are usually custom-fitted to your home.

  • Cost: While they are the easiest and most convenient way to protect your home, roll-down shutters also are the most expensive window defense option, averaging $20 to $35 per square foot of window, according to the NOAA.
  • Effect on insurance: Can be significant depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: The shutters are easily raised and lowered. They also can be used to temporarily darken a ro.
  • Cons: They’re prohibitively expensive for most homeowners and usually require professional installation. Push-button systems need a battery backup or manual override for use during a power outage.

Garage door braces

Your garage door is one of the parts of your home most vulnerable to high wind. Failure of a garage door can allow the full force of a hurricane to threaten the roof or walls. While some newer garage doors are rated for winds of up to 150 mph, many older ones should be braced. Vertical bracing systems are typically made of aluminum and are anchored above the garage door and to the floor to provide a backbone of extra support.

  • Cost: The price varies by manufacturer, approximately $150 to $175 per garage door brace.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Braces are effective and relatively inexpensive.
  • Cons: They may require special tools such as a rotor hammer and masonry bit to drill into concrete floor. Garage door cannot be opened without removing the brace.

Hurricane glass

Want to skip the hassle and closed-in feeling of shutters altogether? Consider installing hurricane-impact windows. The glass is usually 3/8-inch thick and features a film coating similar to the safety glass used in vehicle windshields. If the windows crack or are smashed, the glass will stay embedded in the frame.

  • Cost: Hurricane glass windows are not cheap, costing up to $50 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: With hurricane glass, there is nothing to install or remove when a hurricane comes; it’s always in place and is completely transparent. No shutters are needed. Hurricane windows also help block outside noise, protect against break-ins and filter out harmful UV rays.
  • Cons: The windows must be installed by a contractor, and the labor costs can be steep.

Accordion shutters

Housed on the sides of doors or windows when not in use, these retractable aluminum shutters unfold like an accordion to protect your home’s openings during a storm. The shutters can provide protection against not only wind but also forced entry. They are usually available in a variety of colors.

  • Cost: $15 to $25 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Accordion shutters are easily and quickly deployed in the event of a storm. They are permanently fixed to the house and do not require storage.
  • Cons: They may appear unattractive on some houses. The mechanisms that open and close the shutters may be weaker or break more often than with other products.

Bahama shutters

Bahama shutters are hinged at the top of the window and angle outward from the wall with the help of telescoping arms. The support arms typically are adjustable from 60- to 90-degree angles. The shutters protect against wind while providing light, ventilation and privacy control in everyday use. They often are used in sunny and coastal environments and can give a home a distinct, tropical appearance.

  • Cost: $15 to $20 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: Bahama shutters permanently attach to the home and can be quickly deployed. Made of aluminum, vinyl or wood, they can easily be painted to complement or match the home.
  • Cons: Almost permanently block full vision from windows and can make a home much darker. The amount of hurricane protection they offer can vary by style and manufacturer.

Colonial shutters

As a traditional style of window protection, colonial shutters attach to the window’s side walls and fold inward to close. Permanently fixed to the window frame and held open by a clip system, they can quickly and easily be closed and secured with a brace bar when a storm approaches.

  • Cost: Moderately priced when compared with other window protection products, colonial shutters run roughly $18 to $30 per square foot.
  • Effect on insurance: Possible discount depending on state and carrier.
  • Pros: The shutters can easily be closed by one person. They can add decorative curb appeal to a home.
  • Cons: They must be permanently installed on the house, a process that can be expensive and time-consuming. Professional installation may be required.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Hurricane insurance deductibles can make your policy stingier when a big storm hits

8/26/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/hurricane-insurance-deductibles-what-when.aspx

Author: Jay MacDonald

Homeowners going through their first hurricane can be shocked by the unharnessed power of Mother Nature. Unfortunately, once the storm passes, they’re often stunned a second time by a special — and costly — hurricane insurance deductible they didn’t know was buried in their home insurance policy.

Hurricane deductibles were a result of Hurricane Andrew, which slammed into South Florida in 1992 and left insurers holding the bag for $15.5 billion in losses. At the time, it was the costliest hurricane in U.S. history, although Hurricane Katrina now tops that list, according to the New York-based trade group Insurance Information Institute.

In Andrew’s aftermath, insurers in coastal areas along the Atlantic seaboard and Gulf of Mexico now issue home insurance policies with a separate, percentage-based deductible for hurricane-related damage, in addition to the standard homeowners deductible. Hurricane deductibles are applied in 19 states and the District of Columbia, the institute says.

How hurricane deductibles work

When your policy has a hurricane deductible and one of those big storms hits, you typically will be on the hook for 2%-5% of your home’s insured value before your coverage for the damage kicks in. The out-of-pocket cost can be much higher than what you’d face with the dollar-amount deductibles commonly used for fire damage and theft.

If the home you insured for $300,000 has a 5% hurricane deductible, you would be responsible for the first $15,000 in hurricane damage as defined by the policy. With a standard, non-hurricane deductible, you might pay just the first $500 of a home insurance claim out of your own pocket.

In some states, homeowners may be able to get a dollar-amount hurricane deductible by agreeing to pay a higher premium, though in high-risk shore areas the percentage deductibles may be unavoidable.

Hurricane deductible ‘triggers’

A hurricane insurance deductible won’t apply unless a certain threshold of storminess has been crossed.

The “trigger” can vary depending on the state and the insurance company, but it might be activated when the National Weather Service issues a hurricane watch or warning or declares that a hurricane has reached a particular level of intensity, the Insurance Information Institute says.

That might mean, for example, that you won’t have to worry about your policy’s hurricane deductible unless the weather service has determined that a Category 1 hurricane has made landfall. You should ask your insurance agent about the trigger for your deductible, says Jeanne Salvatore, an institute spokeswoman.

“Everyone, no matter where they live, should make sure they understand what is and is not covered under their home insurance policy, as well as how their deductibles work,” she says.

It’s got to be a hurricane

One important catch with a policy’s hurricane deductible clause is that the property damage must involve a named hurricane. As Superstorm Sandy demonstrated in 2012, millions of dollars can hang in the balance if a storm is not given official hurricane status prior to landfall.

The National Weather Service determined that Sandy lacked the sustained winds of 75 mph necessary to qualify as a hurricane when it hit the East Coast.

Even when a hurricane deductible does not apply, homeowners can still find themselves on the hook for hefty out-of-pocket costs. David Bresnahan, client manager for The Horton Group, an Illinois-based insurance brokerage, says some homeowners hit by Sandy were surprised to find themselves subject to a similar percentage-based “windstorm deductible,” which applies regardless of any hurricane declaration.

“At the end of the day, the carriers are going to make a decision that might be based on underwriting standards, and it might be based on the public relations impact,” he says.

An underappreciated upside

Amy Bach, executive director of United Policyholders, a San Francisco-based insurance consumer group, says insurers faced with Sandy-style line calls would be wise to waive their hurricane insurance deductibles, as most did following the superstorm.

That’s a small price to pay, Bach says, in a storm where many of the claims may be excluded from homeowners policies anyway, either because they involve flooding, for which flood insurance is needed, or because they arose from a combination of insured and uninsured perils.

Lynne McChristian, Florida representative for the Insurance Information Institute, says despite the potential hit to policyholders’ pockets, hurricane deductibles can benefit homeowners.

“There is an advantage to a hurricane deductible that people overlook when the storm’s not there, and that is, it gives you less-costly insurance today,” she says. “It’s something that saves people money when the wind doesn’t blow.”

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Hurricane Season: Check Your Home’s Defenses

6/24/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/home-shape-hurricane-season-1.aspx

Author: TERRY SHERIDAN

Government forecasters have predicted a busy Atlantic hurricane season in 2018. If you live on or near the East Coast, don’t put off making sure your home is ready. When a powerful storm is bearing down, it may be too late to protect your property.

Don’t let your guard down this hurricane season. Consider opening a home equity line of credit (HELOC)or taking out a personal loan to make improvements, because there’s much you can do now so you won’t get caught making last-minute — and probably inadequate — moves to strengthen your home’s defenses against hurricanes.

Start with shutters and your roof

“If you buy shutters or other coverings with product approvals and use licensed contractors who pull building permits, you’re on your way to protecting your home,” says engineer Jose Mitrani, associate professor emeritus in the school of construction at Florida International University in Miami.

“And be sure that inspections are done of the work,” says Mitrani, who served on building code task forces after Hurricane Andrew, a Category 5 storm that tore through South Florida in 1992.

Roof cover damage is the biggest reason for hurricane insurance claims that are not related to storm surges, says the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, or IBHS, in Tampa, Florida.

A cascade of trouble can happen when a roof is roughed up by a hurricane: Water gets in through gaps in the roof decking, which soaks the attic insulation, which collapses the ceiling, which damages your furniture and other belongings when wet wallboard and insulation fall on them.

And that’s if your roof mostly stays intact. If your roof lacks truss tie-downs known as hurricane straps or its gable ends are unbraced or improperly braced, you stand a greater chance of losing part of or the entire roof over your head.

That’s why the IBHS and the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, or FLASH, suggest you take these roof precautions now before hurricane season revs up.

  • Nail or caulk loose roof tiles or shingles.
  • On a metal roof, check for rust and loose anchoring.
  • Install hurricane straps. (Consider hiring a licensed contractor to do this.)
  • Brace gable ends. (Ditto on hiring a professional.)
  • Install a backup water barrier under the roof cover if necessary.

The IBHS also suggests you check your attic’s ventilation. Loose eave and gable end vents, soffits and turbines all provide opportunities for water to enter your attic.

 

Window and door coverings

To a great extent, getting your home hurricane-ready means making sure it’s equipped with the right hurricane-resistant window and door coverings. They run a gamut that includes various types of shutters, panels, screens and sheeting, as well as impact-glass windows and doors.

Plywood is cheap but considered an emergency measure — and it’s little help unless you size and anchor it correctly.

Mitrani says even the smallest windows must be covered because in a major storm, smaller openings are actually subjected to higher wind pressures than larger areas such as the side of your house.

The average window area to be covered (including doors with windows) is about 15 percent of a home’s total square footage, according to the IBHS. A 2,000-square-foot home would need about 300 square feet of shutters. If your shutters cost $20 per square foot, you’ll spend $6,000.

The IBHS notes that some coverings can be installed only by professionals and cost up to $30 per square foot of opening. Do-it-yourself products cost about half as much.

Beware of contractors who try to sell DIY products, warns Leslie Chapman-Henderson, president and CEO of FLASH. “Those are products that are cheap and can’t get product approval,” she says.

Protecting doors and windows

Some coverings are permanent attachments to your home, such as accordion shutters and “clamshell” awnings. Accordion shutters rest folded and highly visible on both sides of your windows, while single-piece clamshell awnings fold down over your windows from above.

Removable hurricane panels sit in tracks at the top and bottom of window and door openings; only the tracks are permanently attached to the building.

If you live in a condo or a development with an active homeowners association, be aware that there may be rules about the type and color of storm shutters allowed. Check before outfitting your doors and windows.

Also, ask your local building department what’s required of coverings in your state or region. Mirtrani says building codes in Florida, for example, require that hurricane products be able to withstand certain levels of impact by wind-borne debris. That means those products have to undergo impact tests to earn approval.

Once your new coverings are installed, take them for a trial run, suggests Tim Reinhold, IBHS chief engineer and senior vice president of research.

“Make sure you have all the parts and everything is sized and fits properly,” he says.

Other property precautions

Before hurricanes start forming, do a spot-check from the attic down. FLASH recommends caulking holes in building exteriors and tightening or replacing loose and missing screws and brackets in windows and doors — including garage doors. Also, be sure to clean out the gutters.

A few final preparation tips:

  • Don’t tape windows. Placing those masking-tape X’s across your panes may feel comforting, but the National Hurricane Center says it’s a waste of valuable time and won’t keep your windows or glass doors from shattering.
  • Plan to evacuate a mobile home. Even if you have a newer manufactured home built to withstand higher wind speeds, Reinhold says there’s too great a chance of damage from flying debris from older neighboring homes to risk staying.
  • Prepare for high-rise pressure changes. If you live in a high-rise building, be aware that potentially damaging wind pressures increase with height.
  • Batten down the patio/yard. Don’t leave anything outside, including furniture, playthings and tools. Trim trees so branches won’t bang against the house, and do it early enough so the trimmings can be hauled off before a hurricane. Otherwise, they could become projectiles in a major storm.
  • Gas up before the storm. Fill up your vehicles and emergency power generator well ahead of time to avoid last-minute lines at the pump.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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7 Places To Find Cash After A Disaster

6/13/2018 (Permalink)

Source: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/insurance/find-cash-after-disaster-1.aspx

Author: AMANDA DIXON

When nature goes wild, it can be disastrous for your finances. According to the National Climatic Data Center, major weather disasters have caused more than $1.2 trillion worth of damage in the U.S. since 1980 — and that doesn’t include Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria or Nate.

If you’re hit with an emergency and need to find cash fast, tap into the emergency reserves in your savings account. Then look to these resources.

1. Family and friends

If you need to find cash fast, ask loved ones first, says Pamela Yellen, author of “Bank On Yourself: The Life-Changing Secret to Growing and Protecting Your Financial Future.”

“Never ever treat (a family loan) casually,” she says. “Put it in writing. Assign a fair interest rate to it. … Treat it like any other business relationship.”

 

While your family lender doesn’t have to charge the full market interest rate, they have to charge you something for the transaction to be considered a loan and not a gift that could have tax and estate planning implications.

The government publishes a monthly list of applicable federal rates, or AFRs, that provide minimum interest rates on loans made between family and friends.

If your loved ones aren’t in the black right now, peer-to-peer lending sites can connect you with wealthy strangers.

2. The feds

In gravely disastrous times, Uncle Sam might also help.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency provides disaster assistance for temporary housing, home repair, disaster-related medical and burial expenses, vehicle damage and cleanup costs, while the U.S. Small Business Administration offers federally subsidized loans for renters, private nonprofit organizations and home and business owners.

To qualify for either, borrowers must live in a federally declared disaster zone and file a claim with their insurance company first.

3. Your life insurance policy

Permanent life insurance policies are excellent emergency resources because they’re accessible, you can borrow against them without having to qualify for a loan, and you can pay a policy loan back on your own schedule.

 

“You can borrow up to about 90 percent of the cash value of the policy. There are no immediate income tax consequences unless the loan isn’t repaid,” says Roland Jones, a CFP professional with Moneta Group, a financial services firm in Clayton, Missouri.

Though rules vary among insurance providers, many require policyholders to own their policies for a few years before borrowing. You’ll also be charged interest for taking out a policy loan, which will be deducted from the death benefit until you pay the loan back.

Just don’t borrow too much. Should the loan and accumulated interest become greater than the surrender value of the policy, policyholders could find themselves having to pay significant premiums to keep the policy in force.

4. CDs, savings bonds and mutual funds

You can take your money out of a CD, but you’ll probably pay a penalty. It could be just a few months’ interest, but check with your bank first.

Sacrificing some CD earnings is a pittance compared to paying interest rates on a life insurance loan or cash advance.

Savings bonds are another quick cash resource, though you could pay a three-month interest penalty if a bond is redeemed too early, reports the U.S. Treasury. In both cases, you’ll pay income tax on any interest earned.

Of course, you can sell stocks (and realize a capital gain or loss accordingly) as well as mutual funds and annuities. If you take this route, consult a financial adviser about tax issues and penalties.

5. 529 college savings

If you have to borrow from your future to pay present obligations, so be it.

According to the Securities and Exchange Commission, college savers who pull funds out of a 529 planfor non-qualified education expenses will pay income tax and a 10 percent penalty on earnings.

Those investing in plans that offer state tax incentives may have state tax consequences, too.

6. Retirement accounts

Roth IRA holders may withdraw their own contributions — not earnings — without tax or penalty.

Traditional IRA holders may start taking penalty-free distributions on their accounts if they begin taking regular distributions, but specific rules apply. You’ll pay income taxes and a 10 percent penalty on the taxable amount if you’re under age 59½.

Since taking early IRA distributions can severely disrupt your future retirement plans, “You wouldn’t do that unless it was the only option,” says Kirk Shamberger, a partner with CK Financial Resources in Colchester, Vermont.

7. A loan from your 401(k)

With 529 plans and IRAs, the problem is time. Regardless of whether you get around the tax and penalty rules, pulling funds early limits the compound interest you can potentially gain from them in the future.

A 401(k) loan is usually a better option.

The IRS reports that 401(k) holders can borrow up to half of their account balance (a maximum of $50,000) tax-free, but funds must be repaid within five years in most cases.

The catch is that you have to stay with your current employer for the duration.  If you lose your job, you’ll have 30 to 60 days to repay the loan or face penalties.

Before pulling funds from any long-term investment, read the fine print and consult your tax adviser.

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Hurricane Season Starts June 1

6/2/2018 (Permalink)

Source: http://www.nj211.org/peak-season-for-hurricanes-starts-in-mid-august-in-new-jersey

Peak Season for Hurricanes Starts in Mid-August in New Jersey

Though the national hurricane season normally runs from June 1 through November 30, the peak potential for hurricane and tropical storm activity in New Jersey runs from mid-August through the end of October.

The combination of warm ocean water, humid air, and consistent winds contribute to the formation of “tropical cyclones” – low-pressure systems of circulating winds, clouds and thunderstorms – over the Atlantic Ocean, Caribbean Sea and the Gulf of Mexico.

As they gain strength, these cyclones are classified as tropical depressions, tropical storms or hurricanes. The Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale rates hurricane strengths, from Category 1 to Category 5. Most of these storms remain over the ocean without affecting the U.S. coastline. When they approach land, tropical storms and hurricanes can be extremely deadly and destructive – even as far north as New Jersey, and even when they do not make landfall here.

The key threats from an approaching tropical storm or hurricane are WIND, STORM SURGE, FLOODING, and the potential for TORNADOES.

Hurricane WINDS can reach 74-95 mph for a Category 1 storm, to above 155 mph for a Category 5 storm.

The STORM SURGE is a dome of ocean water the hurricane pushes ahead of itself. At its peak, a storm surge can be 25 feet high and 50-100 miles wide. The storm surge can devastate coastal communities as it sweeps ashore.

The thunderstorms and torrential rains that accompany a hurricane can create dangerous and deadly floods or flash floods.

Seventy percent of hurricanes making landfall spawn at least one tornado.

Preparing properly for a hurricane begins long before a storm ever hits.

Be ready for hurricane season with these tips from the New Jersey Office of Emergency Management 

NJ Register Ready

If you are a citizen with special needs, call 2-1-1 or visit NJ Register Ready to provide information that will help emergency responders to better plan to serve you in times of emergency.

As with other types of emergencies, you should prepare yourself and your family by creating an Emergency Supply Kit and a Family Disaster Plan. Be sure to educate yourself about the emergencies that typically occur in your locale.

Before a Hurricane

The first line of defense against the effects of a disaster is personal preparedness. During an emergency, the government and other agencies may not be able to meet your needs. It is important for all citizens to make their own emergency plans and prepare for their own care and safety in an emergency.

  • Your Kit includes items that will help you stay self-sufficient for up to three days if needed such as, canned food, bottled water, first-aid kit, battery operated flashlight and radio, blanket, and manual can opener.
  • Your Plan includes evacuation plans, a place to reunite with loved ones, and an out-of-state contact person.

Store important documents and irreplaceable personal objects (such as photographs) where they won't get damaged. If major flooding is a possibility, consider putting them in a storage facility.

Read FEMA's informative press release regarding things that can be done now that will protect your home from damage when a storm hits. Protecting a Home from Storms and Flooding Begins on the Inside

Make plans to secure your property.

  • Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking.
  • Install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure. This will reduce roof damage.
  • Be sure trees and shrubs around your home are well trimmed.
  • Clear loose and clogged rain gutters and downspouts.
  • Determine how and where to secure your boat if you own one.
  • Consider building a safe room

If a hurricane is likely in your area, you should:

  • Listen to the radio or TV for information.
  • Secure your home, close storm shutters, and secure outdoor objects or bring them indoors.
  • Turn off utilities if instructed to do so. Otherwise, turn the refrigerator thermostat to its coldest setting and keep its doors closed.
  • Turn off propane tanks.· Avoid using the phone, except for serious emergencies.
  • Moor your boat if time permits.
  • Ensure a supply of water for sanitary purposes such as cleaning and flushing toilets. Fill the bathtub and other large containers with water. 

You should evacuate under the following conditions:

  • If you are directed by local authorities to do so. Be sure to follow their instructions.
  • If you live in a mobile home or temporary structure—such shelters are particularly hazardous during hurricanes no matter how well fastened to the ground.
  • If you live in a high-rise building—hurricane winds are stronger at higher elevations.
  • If you live on the coast, on a floodplain, near a river, or on an inland waterway.
  • If you feel you are in danger.

During a Hurricane

If you are unable to evacuate, go to your wind-safe room. If you do not have one, follow these guidelines:

  • Stay indoors during the hurricane and away from windows and glass doors.
  • Close all interior doors—secure and brace external doors.
  • Keep curtains and blinds closed. Do not be fooled if there is a lull; it could be the eye of the storm - winds will pick up again.
  • Take refuge in a small interior room, closet, or hallway on the lowest level.
  • Lie on the floor under a table or another sturdy object.

The Red Cross sets up shelters for people who must evacuate. Find a Red Cross shelter.

Plan for Pet Care If you are evacuated, you need to bring your pets with you but pets are typically not allowed to stay at a shelter. The NJ Department of Agriculture recommends that you ask a dependable friend or relative who lives some distance from the evacuation area if you and your pets can stay with them until the all clear is given. An alternative is to find a pet-friendly motel. 

Learn what you can do to prepare for emergencies and protect your pet.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has done the same on a national level. Learn more.

Statewide Preparedness Efforts

Helpnjnow.org is a dynamic, interactive web-based resource providing education, direction, information and tools for people to help themselves and others in a disaster. When there is no active disaster in the state, the website provides information about how to prepare for future disasters, including how you can become certified disaster volunteer. When a disaster strikes, the site will offer guidance on where donations are needed (monetary and material), where people can volunteer and a link to NJ 2-1-1 so that you can find assistance for disaster-related needs.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Are You Winter Weather Ready?

12/1/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Are You Winter Weather Ready? Be Winter Ready!

Are you prepared for the coming cold weather? Cold weather can have a huge impact on your home or business if you are not ready for it. From heavy rain and freezing temperatures to damaging winds, sleet, or snow, all can cause serious and costly property damage. While you cannot control the weather, you can take steps to be prepared and help take the sting out of winter
weather.

To help prevent costly damages due to weather, consider taking the following precautions to protect your property before colder weather hits.

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Wind, heavy rain, ice, and snow can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause personal injuries.
  • Roofs, water pipes, and gutters should all be inspected to ensure they are in proper order. Gutter downspouts should be directed
    away from your building. Clear gutters of debris that may have gathered during the fall. Leaves and other obstructions can cause a damming effect, which can lead to roof damage and interior water problems.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate
    flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells, and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or
    non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.
  • Protect water pipes from freezing by simply allowing water to drip when temperatures dip below freezing. If pipes are under a cabinet, leave the cabinet doors open, allowing warm inside air to circulate around the pipes. If the building has outdoor faucets, consider shutting water off at the
    main valve in the basement or crawl space. Once the valve is off, open the outdoor faucet to ensure it drains, preventing any remaining water from freezing in the pipe.
  • Ask SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County about completing an Emergency READY Profile® (ERP) for your business. The ERP is a no-cost assessment to your facility and provides you with a plan to get back in business fast following a disaster.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Flood Insurance 101: What Homeowners Need To Know

10/5/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage Flood Insurance 101: What Homeowners Need To Know Flooding

Flood Insurance 101: What Homeowners Need To Know

Source: Homes.Com

Author: Becky Blanton

The fact is – any property can flood. Your home doesn’t have to be under five feet of water from hurricane flood surges to suffer flood damage. Normal amounts of rainwater can drain under your home, and flood your basement or the lowest floor level, causing flood damage. This kind of flooding can cause mold, increase the risk of termites and cause electrical problems.

More than 75% of homeowners devastated by flooding unfortunately discover they should have had flood insurance. The sad thing, experts say, is that flood insurance is not that expensive – typically $450 to $600 a year for the average home. When you weigh the cost of flood insurance against replacing your entire home $100,000 to $500,000, it only makes sense to buy it, whether you believe you’ll need it or not.

“People may say things like, ‘I live on a hill, I don’t need flood insurance’,” Diana Herrera, a FEMA flood insurance specialist said. “If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that, and those homes were flooded…”

Other common reasons people give for not buying flood insurance include:

  • “I’m not in a flood zone.”
  • “I’m not anywhere near water.”
  • “I’ll never need it, it’s money wasted.”
  • “My homeowner’s insurance will cover it.”
  • “It’s not available.”
  • “My realtor told me the property would never flood.”

Unfortunately, water tables may fill up. There may be a landslide or a dam miles away can burst or overflow due to rain. Drainage systems in your neighborhood may become blocked. Low spots in your yard, or a neighbor’s, can collect water rather than distribute it away from your home. Poor drainage is a number one reason for flooding for homes on a hill.

Your Insurance Agent’s Responsibility

By law, it’s your realtor’s responsibility to make sure you, the home buyer, are aware of any and all risks to the property you are buying – that includes telling you that you are, or are not in a flood zone, and if your property is in a high-risk area for earthquakes, tornadoes, landslides, hurricanes or other natural disasters. They’re not telling you that bad things will happen, but that they could. If your realtor doesn’t disclose this information, ask them. It is their responsibility to identify what risks you may be exposed to. If you choose not to purchase insurance after being informed of the risks, your realtor or insurance agent may ask you to sign a disclaimer to protect them and their agency in case you do suffer damages from a natural disaster.

Property Checklist

“When you’re buying a home, any home, anywhere, you should check certain basic things before buying,” Herrera said.

  1. Check first with your realtor,” she said. “States have disclosure laws. If the property has ever flooded for any reason, it must be disclosed.” This not only lets the homebuyer know flooding is possible, but that it has happened before. Check to see if the property is in a low, medium or high risk and what those terms mean.
  2. Talk to your community’s floodplain manager. These officials are typically found in the zoning, planning, permitting or mapping offices of your city or county.
  3. Talk to your insurance agent. They should know what is happening in your community regarding flood insurance. They should also be able to explain the National Flood Insurance Program, what the rules and requirements are, and what documents they need (elevation certificate, etc.) to write a flood insurance policy.
  4. Whether you’re building a new home or buying one, get a copy of your site elevation plans. If your lowest floor is higher than the average requirement for flood insurance, you can save money on your insurance. For insurance rating purposes, a building’s flood proofed design elevation must be at least one foot above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) to receive full rating credit for the flood proofing. If the building is flood proofed only to the BFE, the flood insurance rates will be considerably higher. “For every foot higher your floor is above the BFE, you can save as much as 50% on your insurance premium,” Herrera said.
  5. Get a flood proofing certificate. This certification is issued by a registered professional engineer, or architect. It certifies that “the construction of a structure is in accordance with accepted practices for meeting the flood proofing requirements in the community’s floodplain management ordinance.” This documentation is needed for both floodplain management requirements and insurance rating purposes.

Additional Resources

If you own or are buying a home, check out the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). NFIP is not just an insurance program. According to the NFIP, “the program is a comprehensive flood risk management program that maps floodplains, issues hazard mitigation grants, and helps community’s implement safe local floodplain ordinances. The NFIP communicates flood risk and promotes community practices to mitigate that flood risk. Strong awareness tools combined with smart and safe floodplain management practices can help guide communities towards less risky development, and result in floodplains that have more room for rivers to safely flood.”

When fire or water damage strikes, you need professional help to get your property back to preloss condition.  SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County provides 24-hour emergency service and is dedicated to being faster to any size disaster.  Our highly trained technicians can respond immediately to your residential or commercial emergency.??

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

Like Us on Facebook or Follow us on Twitter, Google+, or Instagram and follow the tips, tricks and advice we share with our community.

American Red Cross: Hurricane Harvey Update

8/30/2017 (Permalink)

Storm Damage American Red Cross: Hurricane Harvey Update American Red Cross - Hurricane Harvey Relief

Our hearts go out to the hundreds of thousands of people affected by this catastrophic disaster in Texas. We know this is a challenging and emotional time, and the American Red Cross is working around the clock to get help to those who need it most.

Thousands of people have been forced to leave their flooded homes, losing everything they own – and the storm isn’t over yet. Significant flooding and tornadoes are still predicted. As much as 50 inches of rain is expected to fall before Harvey leaves the region, and parts of Texas comparable to the size of Lake Michigan remain underwater.

Click here to make an urgently needed donation today to help the thousands of people who are counting on the generosity of people like you in these difficult hours – they need a warm, dry place to sleep, hot food to eat, and a community to lean on as they work to return to normal life.

Thanks to two generous families from the state of Texas, all donations made today to Hurricane Harvey will be MATCHED, dollar-for-dollar, up to $55,000. This is a chance for your impact to go twice as far. Please give generously to those who need it most. 

Special thanks to the Pointer Family and Bobby and Leona Cox for their generous matching gift contribution.

Your gift will help support relief efforts that are already underway. So far your support has enabled us to –

  • Work alongside partners to provide shelter for at least 17,000 people in Texas Monday night, and we are prepared to shelter thousands more. 
  • Serve nearly 30,000 meals and snacks since the storm began.
  • Mobilize 80 tractor trailer loads of supplies including cots, blankets, comfort kits, kitchen supplies and cleaning supplies.

But the damage wreaked by Tropical Storm Harvey is only growing – more and more families will be depending on the Red Cross for help in the days and weeks to come, and we will be depending on the support of generous donors like you to fulfill our mission. Please donate now and have your gift MATCHED, dollar-for-dollar, up to $55,000 to support Hurricane Harvey relief efforts.

If a friend or loved one is in harm’s way, urge them to be safe and listen to the advice of emergency officials. People in life-threatening situations that need rescue should call 9-1-1 or the U.S. Coast Guard at 281-464-4851.

You can find shelters by calling 1-800-Red Cross (1-800-733-2767), visiting redcross.org or by downloading the free Red Cross Emergency App. The Emergency App is available in app stores by searching for the American Red Cross or going to redcross.org/apps.

Stay tuned for more information on our response. I truly appreciate you and your support of the Red Cross.


Sincerely,

Harvey Johnson

Senior Vice President, Disaster Cycle Services
American Red Cross

How To Prepare for a Flood

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

How To Prepare for a Flood

Floods are the most common disaster for homes in the US. Whether a flood is from torrential rains, flash floods, rising rivers, or a leak inside the home, a flood can cause serious damage to your house. If the horrible images of Hurricane Sandy or Hurricane Katrina are still fresh in your mind, you know just how powerful a sudden surge of water can be. According to FloodSmart, every home is at risk of a flood, but regions are usually divided up by low, medium and high-risk areas. Unfortunately, even homes located in flood-prone areas don’t have flood insurance, making the cleanup and recovery efforts even more stressful for homeowners.

Create a home inventory that you can access during a flood

It’s a smart idea to have an inventory of your home and personal possessions. Insurance companies require thorough inventories in order to compensate a policyholder. So whether the loss of belongings is from break-ins, floods, fires or other disasters, it’s a good idea to keep an accurate record of what you own. Read this article to learn more about different ways to keep track of your inventory. During an actual flood, it’s a good idea to take photographs of your home (if it is safe to do so). This can also help during the documentation process. Keep a home inventory somewhere safe and accessible, like in cloud storage, and remember that when a flood occurs, you may need to evacuate your home.

Store important documents and information outside of your home

Some families like to keep important objects like passports, jewelry, cash or other paper goods in a fireproof safe. But when a flood occurs, these safes may not be accessible. It may be a good idea to keep certain belongings in a safe deposit box at your bank. Of course, if your region regularly floods, you’ll want to ensure that this outside facility is secure from flooding. Keep in mind that if a flood has occurred in your town, the bank may not be accessible for quite some time.

Advice for the basement or rooms below ground

If your live in an area that floods regularly, or if you are concerned about flooding, you’ll want to think carefully about which items you store in your basement. If your basement is where valuables are kept, elevate boxes off the ground and consider watertight enclosures. It’s easy to purchase rolling racks with adjustable shelves; these can be perfect for moving things around and keeping boxes up off wet surfaces. If your water heater, furnace, electrical panel or other important mechanical fixtures are located in the basement, consider having them elevated off the ground or moved (at least 12 inches above the expected flood line). Water can seriously damage these items and replacing them can be very expensive.

Install a sump pump

Sump pumps are ideal for homes that experience regular flooding, especially in the basement. It may not be able to handle a flash-flood situation, but can be perfect for smaller, seasonal floods. You’ll want to have your sump pump regularly inspected to ensure it functions properly. Many homeowners that install a sump pump also install a backup generator so that the pump continues to operate even when power is cut off to the home.

Food and water for 2-4 days

The American Red Cross suggests having at least a 3-day supply of food and water on hand for emergencies. Remember that if your area has experienced a flood, you may have difficulty getting to your local stores and pharmacies and even if you can reach them, supplies may be very limited. It is recommended to have at least 1 gallon of water per day per person during an emergency. Keep these supplies in an area of your home that would be accessible in the event of a flood.

Have an emergency bag packed

An emergency bag or box should be filled with first aid supplies, extra medicine (a 7-day supply), food and water, flashlight and batteries, toilet paper, a multipurpose tool, a blanket and any other supplies you may need to cope with a flood. You’ll also want your tools for communicating like a portable radio and a cell phone charger. Some people keep cash in their emergency kits; ATMs may not be functioning during a natural disaster and you may need cash for hotels or transportation. If your region has flood warnings or institutes a flood evacuation, you don’t have time to pack a bag. The idea of this emergency kit is that it should be already packed, easy to carry or transport (in case you need to evacuate) and should be able to tide you over until you reach a more stable area.  There are many online sites that sell ready-to-go bags and emergency kits. Here is a link to the FEMA recommended list of emergency supplies.

Plan your evacuation with your family ahead of time

Your family should put together a plan of action in case of an emergency. This could include how everyone should get a hold of each other, meeting points, and evacuation routes. Many city websites have specific pages designed to help families understand their local natural disaster plans. It’s important to read through this information prior to a natural disaster, as your access to the internet may be immediately cut off. As we saw from past events like Hurricane Katrina, flooding can happen quickly and can create an overwhelming feeling of chaos. Some families designate an out-of-state person as the central point of contact during an emergency, as their lines of communication may still be functioning. Having a plan on hand is the best way to feel in control when disaster strikes, particularly if you and your family have to act quickly. Some neighborhood organizations create emergency plans for their specific area. If you have neighbors that live alone or may need extra help during an emergency, it’s a good idea to ask them if they’d like to be included in your family’s plan. Remember to have a plan for your pets as well.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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How To Stock Up for Severe Weather

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

How To Stock Up for Severe Weather

This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel discuss how to prepare for the next big storm

THIS OLD HOUSE HOST KEVIN O'CONNOR AND JIM CANTORE OF THE WEATHER CHANNELTHIS OLD HOUSE TELEVISION 
  • Overview

  • Comments

  • In this video, This Old House host Kevin O'Connor and Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel discuss how to prepare for the next big storm.

    Steps:
    1. Keep a water supply of one gallon per day per person for three days.
    2. Have a three-day supply of canned goods, and don't forget to pack a can opener.
    3. Pack several fresh batteries, flashlights, and lanterns.
    4. Get a hand-crank flashlight that can also recharge cell phones.
    5. Place important documents and phone numbers in a waterproof case.
    6. Choose a meeting place in case family members get separated.
    7. Portable gas-powered generators must be placed outdoors; never run one in an enclosed space. Be sure to have gasoline on hand.
    8. Use a chain and padlock to secure the generator to a tree or other unmovable object.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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Brace Yourself, Winter Is Coming

8/11/2017 (Permalink)

Brace Yourself, Winter Is Coming

You don’t have to be a Game of Thrones fan to know that winters these days are wild. When colder months roll around, the only thing that’s certain is that the weather will be unpredictable. Whether it’s ice storms across the North East, or flash floods throughout the South West, being prepared is the best defense.

Check these nine home projects to weatherproof your place and make sure you have a cozy winter.

  1. Get a winter-ready roof. A leaking roof makes for a messy, expensive, winter. Inside the house, dark ceiling stains or sagging spots mean a roof repair is in order. Outside, confirm shingles have no signs of splitting, disintegration, or looseness. If your roof is tricky to access—or you have tile shingles—hire a specialist to do the inspection. It’s not worth the broken bones or broken tiles!
  1. Clean those gutters. You could break out the ladders and gloves, root around in old wet leaves… or do yourself a favor and hire someone who specializes in gutters to handle this arduous task for you. A professional will safely reach the roof, clear out the muck, and look for signs of wear and tear that might need repair.
  1. Tuck up your trees. If winter storms are bad, unwieldy trees can do serious damage to homes, vehicles—even people. Call in a tree trimming service to give an assessment of your yard and tree safety. Southeastern cities such as Miami,Houston, and New Orleans benefit from trim trees during hurricane season as well.
  1. Tune up your heat source – and save money on heating bills. Have a fireplace or heater? Get it ready for winter. Buildup in a fireplace is a serious fire hazard. Call in an expert to take care of black dust or residue. For heaters, call for a routine maintenance check before the freezing temps hit.
  1. Winterize your windows and doors. Apply weather stripping around doors to seal in heat and keep out cold. Use caulk to seal windows in tight and keep out icy winds. Even cities with moderate winter climates like Los Angeles benefit from these quick fixes. Best of all, it’s a cheap energy saver!
  1. Schedule your holiday lighting installation. Winter prep is not all chores! Decorating is a fabulous project to look forward to. Think big this year with a gorgeous light display that’ll have all the neighbors jealous. Give Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival a run for their money.
  1. Winterize the yard. Bring in small plants that can’t survive a freeze like the ones that strike Dallas each winter. For cities that deep freeze, like Chicago and Boston, turn off outdoor watering systems to avoid bursting pipes. Regardless of location, every yard benefits when you load up the truck—or hire someone to do the dirty work for you—and haul away dead bushes, old leaves, and yard waste. When rotting debris stays on the lawn all winter, expect brown spots and blight come spring.
  1. Prep the pool. Love the summertime fun of playing in the pool? Make sure it gets the winterizing treatment before snows and freezing temperatures hit. Cities like Newark that enjoy both hot and cold temperatures can call in a pool specialist or winterize themselves to make sure the pool survives the winter.
  1. Finish your to-do list. Getting winter ready is a great excuse to fix a leaky faucet, repair the creaking washing machine, and replace the springs on the garage door. Everything is more manageable when the weather is warmer. Either get out the toolbox or hire a handyperson—all you’ll have to worry about when the temperature drops is which movie to watch.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services. 

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IS YOUR PROPERTY WINTER READY?

12/9/2016 (Permalink)

Storm Damage IS YOUR PROPERTY WINTER READY? Cold weather is here. Make sure your property is ready.

Cold weather can have a huge impact on your home or business if you are not properly prepared. Whether it is heavy rain, freezing temperatures, damaging winds, sleet or snow, all can cause serious and costly property damage. While you cannot control the weather, you can take steps to be prepared and help take the sting out of winter weather.

To help prevent costly damages due to weather, consider taking the following precautions to protect your property before colder weather hits.

  • Check your business property for downed tree limbs and branches. Weather, such as wind, heavy rain, ice and snow, can cause branches to fall, which could cause damage to the property and potentially cause personal injuries.
  • Roofs, water pipes and gutters should all be inspected to ensure they are in proper order. Gutter downspouts should be directed away from your building. Clear gutters of debris that may have gathered during the fall. Leaves and other obstructions can lead to a damming effect, that can lead to roof damage and interior water problems.
  • Inspect property, especially walkways and parking lots, for proper drainage to alleviate flood hazard potential.
  • Inspect all handrails, stairwells and entryways to address and correct potential slippery or hazardous areas. Install mats or non-slip surfaces and post caution signs where water could be present.
  • Protect water pipes from freezing by simply allowing water to drip when temperatures dip below freezing. If pipes are under a cabinet, leave the cabinet doors open allowing warm inside air to circulate around the pipes. If the building has outdoor faucets, consider shutting water off at the main valve in the basement or crawl space. Once the valve is off, open the outdoor faucet to ensure it drains, preventing any remaining water from freezing in the pipe.

Ask SERVPRO® of Northern Sussex County about completing an Emergency READY Profile® (ERP) for your business. The ERP is a no cost assessment to your facility, and provides you with a plan to get back in business fast following a disaster.

Contact us at 973-383-2024 if you have a service need or click here to visit our website to learn more about SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County's System Services.

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Storm Readiness - Tools To Keep You Safe

4/29/2016 (Permalink)

One of the best precautions you can take is to purchase a good quality weather radio.  A weather radio is designed to alert you to potentially dangerous weather situations, like an approaching tornado. It allows you to be warned ahead of storms, providing you time to seek shelter.

A weather radio is the most reliable source for weather alerts. Weather radios have made many advancements over the years and are very aff ordable. Most basic weather radios average around $30 and can be programmed to only alert you for the weather alerts you choose.

When shopping for a weather radio, look for the following key features:

  • Reviewable alerts (you can scroll through alerts and turn off the siren for alerts you do not wish to hear).
  • Specific Area Message Encoding (SAME) alert programming (alerts when specific counties are threatened, ensuring you only receive alerts for your county).
  • Ease of programming.

If you need help programming your weather radio, you can always contact your local National Weather Service Offi ce or for additional information, including county codes for your state, visit the NOAA Weather Radio website at www.nws.noaa.gov/nwr.

Understanding WEAs

Wireless Emergency Alerts (WEA) are emergency messages sent by authorized government alerting authorities through your mobile carrier.  Government partners include local and state public safety agencies, FEMA, the FCC, the Department of Homeland Security, and the National Weather Service.  Alerts received at the right time can help keep you safe during an emergency. With WEA, alerts can be sent to your mobile device when you may be in harm’s way, without need to download an app or subscribe to a service. WEA may share:

  • Extreme weather warnings.
  • Local emergencies requiring evacuation or immediate action.
  • AMBER Alerts.
  • Presidential Alerts during a national emergency.

A WEA will look like a text message. The WEA message will typically show the type and time of the alert, any action you should take, and the agency issuing the alert. The message will be no more than 90 characters.

Visit www.ctia.org/wea to learn more about Wireless Emergency Alerts, including how to determine if your mobile device is WEA-capable.

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Weather Alert Terminology

11/23/2015 (Permalink)

Weather Alert Information

Basic Weather Terms:

Warning

A warning is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. A warning means weather conditions pose a threat to life or property. People in the path of the storm need to take protective action.

Watch

A watch is used when the risk of a hazardous weather or hydrologic event has increased significantly, but its occurrence, location or timing is still uncertain. It is intended to provide enough lead time so those who need to set their plans in motion can do so. A watch means that hazardous weather is possible. People should have a plan of action in case a storm threatens and they should listen for later information and possible warnings especially when planning travel or outdoor activities.

Advisory

An advisory is issued when a hazardous weather or hydrologic event is occurring, imminent or likely. Advisories are for less serious conditions than warnings, that cause significant inconvenience and if caution is not exercised, could lead to situations that may threaten life or property.

WINTER WEATHER ALERTS:

Winter Weather Advisory

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a low pressure system produces a combination of winter weather (snow, freezing rain, sleet, etc.) that present a hazard, but does not meet warning criteria.

Winter Storm Watch

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when there is a potential for heavy snow or significant ice accumulations, usually at least 24 to 36 hours in advance. The criteria for this watch can vary from place to place.

Winter Storm Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a winter storm is producing or is forecast to produce heavy snow or significant ice accumulations. The criteria for this warning can vary from place to place.

Blowing Snow Advisory

Issued when wind driven snow reduces surface visibility, possibly, hampering traveling. Blowing snow may be falling snow, or snow that has already accumulated but is picked up and blown by strong winds.

Blizzard Warning Sustained winds or frequent gusts to 35 miles per hour or greater and considerable amounts of falling or blowing snow (reducing visibility to less than a quarter mile) are expected to prevail for a period of three hours or longer.

Freezing Rain Advisory

Issued when freezing rain or freezing drizzle is forecast but a significant accumulation is not expected. However, even small amounts of freezing rain or freezing drizzle may cause significant travel problems.

WINTER WEATHER ALERTS:

Ice Storm Warning

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when freezing rain produces a significant and possibly damaging accumulation of ice. The criteria for this warning varies from state to state, but typically will be issued any time more than 1/4" of ice is expected to accumulate in an area.

Snow Advisory

This product is issued by the National Weather Service when a low pressure system produces snow that may cause significant inconveniences, but do not meet warning criteria and if caution is not exercised could lead to life threatening situations. The advisory criteria varies from area to area. If the forecaster feels that it is warranted, he or she can issue it for amounts less than the minimum criteria. For example, it may be issued for the first snow of the season or when snow has not fallen in long while.

Heavy Snow Warning

Issued by the National Weather Service when snowfall of 6 inches (15 cm) or more in 12 hours or 8 inches (20 cm) or more in 24 hours is imminent or occurring. These criteria are specific for the Midwest and may vary regionally.

Frost Advisory

Issued during the growing season when widespread frost formation is expected over an extensive area. Surface temperatures are usually in the mid 30s Fahrenheit.

Frost/Freeze Warning

Below freezing temperatures are expected.

HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM EVENTS:

Tropical Depression

An organized system of clouds and thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 38 MPH (33 knots) or less. Sustained winds are defined as one-minute average wind measured at about 33 ft (10 meters) above the surface.

Tropical Storm

An organized system of strong thunderstorms with a defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 39–73 MPH (34–63 knots).

Hurricane

An intense tropical weather system of strong thunderstorms with a well-defined surface circulation and maximum sustained winds of 74 MPH (64 knots) or higher.

Storm Surge

A dome of water pushed onshore by hurricane and tropical storm winds. Storm surges can reach 25 feet high and be 50–1000 miles wide.

Storm Tide

A combination of storm surge and the normal tide (i.e., a 15-foot storm surge combined with a 2-foot normal high tide over the mean sea level created a 17-foot storm tide).

HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM ALERTS:

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Watch

Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are possible in the specified area, usually within 36 hours. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Hurricane/Tropical Storm Warning

Hurricane/tropical storm conditions are expected in the specified area, usually within 24 hours.

HURRICANE/TROPICAL STORM ALERTS:

Short Term Watches and Warnings

These warnings provide detailed information about specific hurricane threats, such as flash floods and tornadoes.

Hurricane Force Wind Warning

A warning for sustained winds, or frequent gusts, of 64 knots (74 mph) or greater, either predicted or occurring, and not directly associated with a tropical cyclone.

Hurricane Force Wind Watch

A watch for an increased risk of a hurricane force wind event for sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, of 34 knots 64 knots (74 mph) or greater, but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.

Hurricane Local Statement

A public release prepared by local National Weather Service offices in or near a threatened area giving specific details for its county/parish warning area on (1) weather conditions (2) evacuation decisions made by local officials (3) other precautions necessary to protect life and property.

Tropical Storm Warning

A warning for sustained surface winds, associated with a tropical cyclone, within the range of 34 to 63 knots (39 to 73 mph), expected in a specified coastal area within 24 hours.

Tropical Storm Watch

An announcement that a tropical storm poses or tropical storm conditions pose a threat to coastal areas generally within 36 hours. A tropical storm watch should normally not be issued if the system is forecast to attain hurricane strength.

FLOOD ALERTS:

Flash Floods

Flash Flood Statement

(FFS) In hydrologic terms, a statement by the NWS which provides follow-up information on flash flood watches and warnings.

Flash Flood Watch

Flash flooding is possible. Be prepared to move to higher ground; listen to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flash Flood Warning

A flash flood is occurring; seek higher ground on foot immediately.

Widespread Flooding

Flood Watch

Flooding is possible. Tune in to NOAA Weather Radio, commercial radio, or television for information.

Flood Warning

Flooding is occurring or will occur soon; if advised to evacuate, do so immediately.

Flood Potential Outlook

(ESF on AFOS) (FPO for Acronym): In hydrologic terms, An NWS outlook that is issued to alert the public of potentially heavy rainfall that could send area rivers and streams into flood or aggravate an existing flood.

Flood Statement (FLS)

In hydrologic terms, a statement issued by the NWS to inform the public of flooding along major streams in which there is not a serious threat to life or property. It may also follow a flood warning to give later information.

Coastal Flooding

Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Warning

Flooding that will pose a serious threat to life and property is occurring, imminent or highly likely. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Warnings are issued using the Coastal/Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product.

Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Watch

Flooding with significant impact is possible. Coastal/Lakeshore Flood Watches are issued using the Coastal/Lakeshore Hazard Message (CFW) product.

River Flooding

River Flood Statement

This product is used by the local National Weather Service Forecast Office (NWFO) to update and expand the information in the River Flood Warning. This statement may be used in lieu of a warning if flooding is forecasted, imminent, or existing and it presents no threat to life or property. The statement will also be used to terminate a River Flood Warning.

River Flood Warning

Flooding is defined as the inundation of normally dry areas as a result of increased water levels in an established water course. The flood warning normally specifies crest information. It usually occurs 6 hours or later after the causative event and it is usually associated with widespread heavy rain and/or snow melt or ice jams.

Urban and Small Stream Flood Advisory

This advisory alerts the public to flooding which is generally only an inconvenience (not life-threatening) to those living in the affected area. Issued when heavy rain will cause flooding of streets and low-lying places in urban areas. Also used if small rural or urban streams are expected to reach or exceed bankfull. Some damage to homes or roads could occur.

HIGH WIND ALERTS:

Wind Advisory

Sustained winds 25 to 39 mph and/or gusts to 57 mph. Issuance is normally site specific.

Extreme Wind Warning

Extreme Wind Warning (EWW) informs the public of the need to take immediate shelter in an interior portion of a well-built structure due to the onset of extreme tropical cyclone winds. An EWW for extreme tropical cyclone winds should be issued when both of the following criteria are met:

1) Tropical cyclone is a category 3 or greater on the Saffir Simpson hurricane scale.

2) Sustained tropical cyclone surface winds of 100 knots (115 mph) or greater are occurring or are expected to occur within one hour.

Gale Watch

A watch for an increased risk of a gale force wind event for sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, of 34 knots (39 mph) to 47 knots (54 mph), but its occurrence, location, and/or timing is still uncertain.

Gale Warning

A warning of sustained surface winds, or frequent gusts, in the range of 34 knots (39 mph) to 47 knots (54 mph) inclusive, either predicted or occurring, and not directly associated with a tropical cyclone.

FIRE ALERTS:

Red Flag

This is a fire weather program which highlights the onset of critical weather conditions conducive to extensive wildfire occurrences.

Red Flag Warning

A term used by fire-weather forecasters to call attention to limited weather conditions of particular importance that may result in extreme burning conditions. It is issued when it is an on-going event or the fire weather forecaster has a high degree of confidence that Red Flag criteria will occur within 24 hours of issuance. Red Flag criteria occurs whenever a geographical area has been in a dry spell for a week or two, or for a shorter period , if before spring green-up or after fall color, and the National Fire Danger Rating System (NFDRS) is high to extreme and the following forecast weather parameters are forecasted to be met:

1) a sustained wind average 15 mph or greater 2) relative humidity less than or equal to 25 percent and 3) a temperature of greater than 75 degrees F.

In some states, dry lightning and unstable air are criteria. A Fire Weather Watch may be issued prior to the Red Flag Warning.

SEVERE WEATHER ALERTS (Thunderstorms & Tornados):

What is a Severe Thunderstorm?

A thunderstorm that produces a tornado, winds of at least 58 mph (50 knots), and/or hail at least ¾" in diameter. Structural wind damage may imply the occurrence of a severe thunderstorm. A thunderstorm wind equal to or greater than 40 mph (35 knots) and/or hail of at least ½" is defined as approaching severe.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch

This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of severe thunderstorms in and close to the watch area. The size of the watch can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They are normally issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning

This is issued when either a severe thunderstorm is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or a spotter reports a thunderstorm producing hail 3/4 inch or larger in diameter and/or winds equal or exceed 58 miles an hour; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. Severe thunderstorms can produce tornadoes with little or no advance warning. Lightning frequency is not a criteria for issuing a severe thunderstorm warning. They are usually issued for a duration of one hour. They can be issued without a Severe Thunderstorm Watch being already in effect.

Severe Weather Potential Statement

This statement is designed to alert the public and state/local agencies to the potential for severe weather up to 24 hours in advance. It is issued by the local National Weather Service office.

Severe Weather Statement

A National Weather Service product which provides follow up information on severe weather conditions (severe thunderstorm or tornadoes) which have occurred or are currently occurring.

Tornado Watch

This is issued by the National Weather Service when conditions are favorable for the development of tornadoes in and close to the watch area. Their size can vary depending on the weather situation. They are usually issued for a duration of 4 to 8 hours. They normally are issued well in advance of the actual occurrence of severe weather. During the watch, people should review tornado safety rules and be prepared to move a place of safety if threatening weather approaches.

Tornado Warning

This is issued when a tornado is indicated by the WSR-88D radar or sighted by spotters; therefore, people in the affected area should seek safe shelter immediately. They can be issued without a Tornado Watch being already in effect. They are usually issued for a duration of around 30 minutes.

Home Emergency - Disaster Preparedness

11/20/2015 (Permalink)

Disaster Preparedness - What You Can Do.

In order to be fully prepared, you should have all pertinent and proper information in a written plan for easy retrieval. Some key questions to consider when creating a personal emergency preparedness plan include:

  • Do you have an escape or evacuation route in place?
  • Do you have a designated meeting place in case of separation?
  • Does everyone have a list of contact information including family members out of state who can serve as a point of contact?
  • Do you have a disaster supply kit with necessary supplies?
  • Do you have a first aid kit that includes necessary prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines and basic medical supplies?
  • Do you have enough non-perishable food and bottled water?
  • Do you have access to important family documents, including insurance policies, bank, credit card and loan information and family records such as birth certificates and social security cards?
  • Do you have an inventory of valuable household goods?

A well-equipped disaster supply kit should include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Water- a large enough supply to provide each person with 1 gallon daily for drinking and sanitation.
  • Food- enough to last 3-7 days. Food needs to be non-perishable or canned food. You will also want to include a non-electric can opener, paper plates and plastic utensils.
  • Bedding including sheets, blankets and pillows.
  • Clothing- remember it may be warm, however, you may be working and cleaning and may prefer pants or long sleeves to protect your skin. You will also need sturdy, closed-toe, non-slip shoes if available.
  • First aid kit including antiseptics or sanitizers and bandages, over-the-counter and prescription medications.
  • Extra flashlights and batteries. Oil lanterns also provide a good source of light, if available.
  • Toiletries including toilet paper and hygiene items. Hand sanitizers are also good to have on hand.
  • Battery-operated radio with extra batteries so you can listen to weather service announcements. 
  • Cash- you will want some cash and small bills on hand as banks may not be open.
  • Emergency phone numbers and contact information including insurance agent and family contacts.
  • Tools, tarps, plastic sheets, trash bags, duct tape, etc. to help make minor repairs.
  • Important documents should be kept in a waterproof bag or plastic sealed container and should include insurance, medical and family records, birth certificates, social security cards, bank account information and a complete home inventory analysis.
  • Gas- fill your car’s tank ahead of time if time permits. You may also want to fill plastic gasoline-approved containers with gas to store.
  • Pet care items including food, leash and a carrier or cage.

Don’t wait until it is too late; prepare now to help protect your family in an emergency or disaster situation.

Severe Weather

11/19/2015 (Permalink)

Unexpected emergencies like severe weather call for immediate action. SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County knows immediate reaction to the disaster is important to help you get your life back to normal.

Utilizing our 1-4-8 Service Response Guidelines*, SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County strives to:

  • Contact you within hour from notice of loss to arrange for service.
  • Be on-site to begin mitigation services within hours of notification.
  • Provide verbal briefing of scope to you within business hours of on-site arrival.
  • SERVPRO of Northern Sussex County can also perform pack-out services, which is removing salvageable personal property from the affected area for off-site cleaning and storage.

    Here are some helpful definitions and tips to get you through severe weather:

    Watch vs. Warning

    A severe thunderstorm watch means that the potential exists for the development of thunderstorms, which may produce large hail or damaging winds. A watch is issued by the SPC (Storm Prediction Center).

    A severe thunderstorm warning means that a severe thunderstorm is occurring or is imminent based on Doppler radar information or a reliable spotter report. The local National Weather Service office issues a warning.

    Storm Basics

    A thunderstorm is a rain shower during which you hear thunder. Since thunder comes from lightning, all thunderstorms have lightning.

    A thunderstorm is classified as “severe” when it contains one or more of the following:

  • Hail (one inch or greater)
  • Winds in excess of 58 mph
  • Structural wind damage
  • Tornado
  • Tornado Facts

    Tornadoes are arguably nature’s most violent storms. Generated from powerful thunderstorms, tornadoes generally appear as rotating, funnel-shaped clouds extending from the cloud base to the ground. With winds that can reach up to 300 miles per hour, tornadoes can cause massive destruction within seconds. Damage paths can be in excess of one mile wide and fifty miles long. 

  • The average tornado moves southwest to northeast, but tornadoes have been known to move in any direction.
  • The average forward speed of a tornado is 30 miles per hour, but may vary from stationary to 70 miles per hour.
  • Tornadoes can accompany tropical storms and hurricanes as they move onto land.
  • Tornadoes are most frequently reported east of the Rocky Mountains during spring and summer months.
  • Tornadoes are most likely to occur between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.
  • Before The Storm

  • To begin preparing, you should build an emergency supply kit and make a family communication plan.
  • Remove dead or rotting trees and branches that could fall and cause injury or damage during a severe thunderstorm.
  • Postpone outdoor activities.
  • Remember the 30/30 Lightning Safety Rule: Go indoors if, after seeing lightning, you cannot count to 30 before hearing thunder. Stay indoors for 30 minutes after hearing the last clap of thunder.
  • Secure outdoor objects that could blow away or cause damage.
  • Get inside a home, building, or hard top automobile (not a convertible). Although you may be injured if lightning strikes your car, you are much safer inside a vehicle than outside.
  • Remember, rubber-soled shoes and rubber tires provide NO protection from lightning. However, the steel frame of a hard-topped vehicle provides increased protection if you are not touching metal.
  • Shutter windows and secure outside doors. If shutters are not available, close window blinds, shades or curtains.
  • Unplug any electronic equipment well before the storm arrives.
  • During The Storm

  • Use your battery-operated NOAA Weather Radio for updates from local officials.
  • Avoid contact with corded phones. Use a corded telephone only for emergencies. Cordless and cellular telephones are safe to use.
  • Avoid contact with electrical equipment or cords. Unplug appliances and other electrical items such as computers and turn off air conditioners. Power surges from lightning can cause serious damage.
  • Avoid contact with plumbing. Do not wash your hands, do not take a shower, do not wash dishes, and do not do laundry. Plumbing and bathroom fixtures can conduct electricity.
  • Stay away from windows and doors, and stay off porches.
  • Do not lie on concrete floors and do not lean against concrete walls.
  • Avoid natural lightning rods such as a tall, isolated tree in an open area.
  • Avoid hilltops, open fields, the beach or a boat on the water.
  • Take shelter in a sturdy building. Avoid isolated sheds or other small structures in open areas.
  • Avoid contact with anything metal—tractors, farm equipment, motorcycles, golf carts, golf clubs, and bicycles.
  • If you are driving, try to safely exit the roadway and park. Stay in the vehicle and turn on the emergency flashers until the heavy rain ends. Avoid touching metal or other surfaces that conduct electricity in and outside the vehicle.
  • After The Storm

  • Never drive through a flooded roadway.
  • Stay away from storm-damaged areas to keep from putting yourself at risk from the effects of severe thunderstorms.
  • Continue to listen to a NOAA Weather Radio or to local radio and television stations for updated information or instructions, as access to roads or some parts of the community may be blocked.
  • Help people who may require special assistance, such as infants, children and the elderly or those with access or functional needs.
  • Stay away from downed power lines and report them immediately.
  • Watch your animals closely. Keep them under your direct control.
  • Emergency Supply Kit

    Recommended items to include in a basic emergency supply kit:

  • Water (one gallon per person per day)
  • Food (non-perishable 3-day supply)
  • Manual can opener
  • Battery operated radio, preferably a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries
  • Flashlight and extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Clothing
  • Dust masks or bandanas
  • Plastic sheeting, garbage bags and duct tape
  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
  • Local maps
  • Hygiene items
  • Important documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account information
  • Cash
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container