Recent Storm Damage Posts
What to Do After a Storm Damages Your Home: 5 Steps to Take
If a storm damages your home, it can feel like your life is suddenly flipped upside down. You may feel overwhelmed with the destruction the storm has caused, and it can be difficult to know what to do first. But careful planning before a storm hits can help you navigate the challenging waters afterward, so you can return to normalcy as quickly as possible. So what should you do after a natural disaster? Here are 5 steps to take so you can be prepared if a storm damages your home.
1) Be careful and stay alert
The destruction and aftermath of a storm of any kind can pose serious injuries. Once you’re certain you and your household members are safe and unharmed, take the necessary precautions to avoid injuries. It’s common to come across hazards from storm damage like broken glass, exposed nails, or displaced screws, so keep an eye out. Be alert of unsecured piles of debris like caved-in roofing materials, standing water, and collapsed walls.
It’s important to always assume that downed power lines are still energized and dangerous. Stay as far away from the power lines if possible and alert the police if you find downed power lines in your neighborhood. Additionally, if you smell gas, immediately shut off any gas valves to prevent further danger.
2) Assess the damage and take photos of the storm damage
After the storm has passed and before contacting your insurance company, assess the storm damage to your home. To ensure you’re fully compensated, take pictures of any interior and exterior damage to your home. Your house could have structural damage, so always be cautious as you’re moving about your home. When you’re inspecting the interior and exterior, record any of the following:
- Roof lifting and lost shingles. Be alert of any holes or leaks in the roof, split seams, dents on vents and gutters, missing, broken, or dented shingles. You can work with an experienced roofer to find a local, reputable insurance agency.
- Missing or damaged exterior siding. Rain can cause damage to siding and strong winds can tear it right off.
- Broken windows and destroyed doors. The wind itself as well as the debris it carries can easily break windows and blow open doors.
- Damaged or broken appliances, including your air conditioner. This is commonly due to water damage.
- Basement flooding. When the soil surrounding your home becomes too saturated with water, your basement or crawl space can flood, causing damage to your belongings and the foundation of your home.
- Moisture damage. Rain and water can seep into your home and cause mold to develop in insulation, wood, furniture, and carpeting.
- Fire damage. Electrical shorts caused by downed power lines or water entering outlets and electrical equipment can cause fires.
Don’t forget to record the loss or destruction to your personal items too. Most homeowner’s insurance policies include personal property coverage up to a scheduled limit.
3) Call your insurance agent right away
After you’ve taken photos of the storm damage, call your agent as soon as possible and stay in contact until your claim is resolved. They’ll be able to explain what kinds of damage your insurance policy covers. Make sure to discuss the damage caused to your home and provide the photos you took along with proper documentation. Following this, your insurance company will send out an adjuster to determine the extent of the damage.
4) Stop further damage
Now is the time to do what you can and stop any further damage from occurring. If storm damage is allowing wind and water to get into your home, start by covering broken windows or a leaking roof with a tarp or plywood. Do what you can first to minimize further damage, then consider contacting a local restoration service provider to help you out. They can help you tackle storm damage and get your property back to normal. If you don’t know of a trusted contractor in your area, oftentimes your insurance company can help you get in contact with a reputable contractor to avoid any scams.
During this time, if your home is in poor condition, consider booking a hotel room or staying with friends and family for the time being. If your home requires extensive repair, make sure you return only when it’s safe to do so.
5) Stay organized and keep receipts
Keep good documentation for any claim to your homeowner’s insurance. For example, save all receipts for materials and labor to ensure you receive fair reimbursement.
Familiarize yourself with what your homeowner’s insurance policy covers. For example, a typical homeowners insurance policy will cover tree damage from a storm, but the biggest exception to most coverages is flood damage. Regardless of carrier, flood damage is not covered as part of a standard policy. Therefore, you’ll need flood insurance in the event that your home is damaged by a flood.
A homeowner’s insurance policy will typically cover three scenarios:
- Weather damage: This typically includes damage due to hail, wind, fire, snow, and more.
- Non-weather events: Common non-weather events are actions like theft and vandalism.
- Sudden/accidental events: This includes situations like a water pipe breaking or a water leak.
If you live in an extreme-weather area with high storm risk, speak with your agent to find out if it’s in your best interest to protect your home and belongings with storm damage or flood insurance. It’s an additional coverage you can opt for in your homeowner’s policy, but can help you after a storm damages your home
We Are The Crew To Call If Your Home Experiences A Flood
Removing Damage And Restoring Homes After A Flood
To remediate the effects of flood damage in Northern Virginia, SERVPRO technicians pay close attention to the walls and other places where water collects and remains after the flood retreats, and we remove standing water. Quick removal helps to eliminate further damage and reduces the effects where damage already started.
Response team members quickly remove furniture outside for cleaning, but efforts inside center around replacement or restoration. As an example, interior walls often absorb much water, but can still be restored to a clean, usable condition.
SERVPRO technicians start by removing floor trim and drilling holes into drywall to release standing water. If the drilling shows that an affected panel is already crumbling or it cracks upward, then it absorbed too much moisture and required replacement. Team members then carefully break up the damaged panels, bag them, and remove them for proper disposal.
If there is no cracking or crumbling, then we take steps to dry each panel and the space behind them. For the exterior, this means directing an air mover to generate warm, dry air over the surface that carefully forces out moisture, so it evaporates into the air.
For the interior, our technicians use another air mover with an attached hose to force air into the wall cavity. That helps to dry the panel and the wall frame where it is attached. One of our inspectors uses a moisture meter to check that everything is back to a normal level and then team members patch the holes and reattach the floor trim.
For SERVPRO it is not really about customers. We work to help our neighbors return their residences to a clean, dry condition so they can get on with their lives. If this situation includes your home, call us today to find out what we can do for you.
Preparing Yourself for Winter Storms
PREPARE YOUR HOME & VEHICLE
- Winterize your vehicle and keep the gas tank full. A full tank will keep the fuel line from freezing.
- Insulate you home by installing storm windows or covering windows with plastic from the inside to keep cold air out.
- Maintain heating equipment and chimneys by having them cleaned and inspected every year.
- Keep a supply of Sand, Rock Salt, or Non-clumping Kitty Litter to make walkways and steps less slippery.
PUT TOGETHER A SUPPLY KIT
A basic emergency supply kit should include the following recommended items:
- Water – at least a 3-day supply; 1 gallon per person per day
- Food – at least a 3 day supply of non-perishable, easy to prepare food
- Battery powered radio (extra batteries)
- First Aid Kit
- Flashlight and Multi-purpose tool (pliers or wrench-to turn off utilities)
- Medications (7 day supply)
- Family and emergency contact information
- Baby Supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
- Pet supplies
- Warm Clothing –Jacket/coat, long pants and long sleeved shirt
- Sanitation and personal hygiene items
When evacuation is deemed necessary:
- Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
- Cell phone with chargers
- Extra Cash
SERVPRO is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Whether you need emergency winter storm damage remediation or other restorative services, you can trust us to make your house feel like home again. We have the training, experience, and equipment to quickly get your home looking its best.
What causes flooding?
There are many causes of flood damage in your home or business.
Anything can happen to flood your home or cause water in your business; even small accidents like a supply line break or a pipe break can cause a flooded home. Some causes are preventable, others are not.
The most common causes:
- Broken water heaters / Sump Pumps
- Leaking pipes
- Supply line break
- Frozen water lines / pipe break
- Storm water
- Blocked Sewer Lines
- Overflowing appliances (Bathtubs, dishwashers, washing machines)
Effects of Excessive Water?
Unless the water cleanup and drying is handled correctly and by a professional, the devastation can quickly spread. A Water Damage Restoration Professional is experienced in the mitigation process and can save you time, money and headaches. Without them, you are exposing yourself to all types of additional problems with water in your home or water in your business:
- Contaminants in the water
- Structural problems
- Building materials
- Carpets and carpet padding
- Loss of personal property
- Electrical / mechanical problems
There is more involved than just fixing a pipe break or supply line break.
Why a Flood Cut Is Worth It After a Storm
When a storm hits flooding is many homeowners’ biggest fear. However, while contamination from standing water is a serious danger, water damage and contaminates left after the flooding recedes can not only cause health concerns but issues with your home’s insulation. A flood cut, or removal of the drywall from the floor to 12 inches above the flood line in a room affected by flooding, can ensure that your walls dry completely and don’t harbor mold or other health hazards. Additionally, a tear out of the drywall can reveal further water damage that must be repaired.
Not all cases require a flood cut. When the flooding only involves clean water, as from a broken pipe, and if there is no insulation in the wall, a flood cut may not be necessary. Flood cuts are typically used in the following situations:
• If flooding is due to a storm or sewage backup and the flood water may be contaminated
• If wet insulation is detected
• If microbial growth of any kind is detected
Flood Cuts Keep You and Your Family Healthy
When flood water is contaminated, it can foster the growth of mold and other bacteria harmful to your health. Because flood waters can seep through drywall, health hazards can be hidden in the walls even if the room looks dry and clean on the surface. A flood cut ensures that walls are thoroughly dried and free from growth, keeping you and your family safe.
Flood Cuts Reveal Hidden Damage
While not all walls are insulated, flooded homes with insulation need flood cuts to reveal water damage behind the drywall. Drywall tear out can reveal whether insulation has been damaged by the flood. Because insulation cannot be properly dried after a flood and maintain its R-value, any wet insulation must be replaced.
When your home floods, professional water restoration experts can ensure that you and your family stay healthy and your home stays insulated.
What to Do When You Suffer Storm Damage
What to Do When You Suffer Storm Damage
Water is the world's most powerful force, and while most people just focus on the wind when they think about a hurricane, flooding is almost always the bigger issue. In places around the world where storm damage has happened, river flooding, ground water problems and other subsequent issues have led to roof damage, roof leaks and other similar concerns. When you find yourself inundated with flood water and hurricane damage, what should you do? Whether it's hail damage, ice damage, wind damage or damage to your flood pump, it's important to have a plan. Here's where to start with storm remediation.
Put in a call to FEMA
Perhaps the first step when you've suffered storm damage is to put in a call to FEMA. Whether river flooding filled your house or you suffered a roof leak from wind damage, a call to FEMA is the first step in storm remediation. FEMA is a federal agency set up to help people deal with storm restoration, home restoration and other types of storm remediation. If you've taken a direct hit and are suffering from hurricane damage, FEMA can sometimes provide you with money to use in the storm remediation. You'll have to get a FEMA number to get the process started.
Gather and protect your personal information for insurance and other claims
If you've been the victim of flooding, wind damage, roof damage, roof leaks and other problems, you may be able to file an insurance claim that will provide you with the money to hire a professional to fix your home. Ground water and flood water can be dangerous, so it's critical to get the process started early. Even if you're the victim of a winter storm and you have frozen pipes from ice damage along with hail damage, you should still gather your information for insurance purposes. The home restoration process from a problem with ice damming or wind damage is largely the same. It should start with the successful protection of your most important documents so you'll have what you need when you go to file an insurance claim to cover that roof repair.
Get out of a damaged house as quickly as possible
Whether an ice dam has busted of you need storm restoration because of wind damage, it's critical not to spend time in a damaged home. Those homes suffering from ice damage or ice damming problems can have structural issues and be unsafe. If you don't have ice damage and you instead have river flooding, you may be living in a veritable cesspool. Your safety should be most important, so it pays to get out before you start the process of a complete home restoration or water restoration. After you've gotten out, you can find a professional company to provide storm damage help, including roof repair for a roof leak, water pump action for flooding, and full home restoration for ground water problems.
Call a company to provide professional help
Water restoration in your home is easiest with an professional flood pump, and frozen pipes from an ice dam issue shouldn't be handled by an amateur. If you find yourself fixing frozen pipes because of ice damming, you are doing it wrong. The better option to rid yourself of flood water or handle that roof repair is to invest in professional help. If it's hurricane damage that's brought that river flooding into your home, then you'll likely have a long road ahead of you. The flood water and ground water problems can do significant damage to the bones of your home, and a professional water restoration company may have to fix your home over the long haul. Even if it's just hail damage or ice damage from ice damming problems, you may have an insurance payoff to help you get professional help into your home. Take advantage of that and save yourself the trouble.
If it's storm restoration you're after, get your affairs in order and call a professional storm restoration company with skilled people and a real flood pump. If it's something like roof damage or other structural storm damage, allow a professional to do that roof repair or fix problems from an ice dam. Frozen pipes and water restoration from hurricane damage are nothing to play around with. A professional who has dealt with ice dam issues or hail damage before can walk you through a stressful time. Their flood pump may just accelerate the process, too, if you have extensive water in your home.
Storm Safety & Awareness
Flood Safety & Awareness
Flooding is the most common natural disaster in the United States.
Flooding can occur during any season, but some areas of the country are at greater risk at certain times of the year. Coastal areas are at greater risk for flooding during hurricane season (i.e., June to November). Flooding can occur in several ways, including the following.
- Excessive rain or snowmelt cannot be fully absorbed into the ground.
- Waterways are blocked with debris or ice and overflow.
- Water containment systems break, such as water or sewer systems.
- Strong winds from tropical storms or hurricanes cause a storm surge by pushing seawater onto land. The speed and duration of flooding can vary significantly.
To avoid being trapped when floodwaters threaten your area, the best action to protect yourself and your family is to evacuate before flooding starts. Know and follow the directions from local officials for community evacuation or seek high ground for localized flooding. If you do not evacuate before the flooding occurs or you are trapped by flash flooding, do not enter flooded areas or moving water either on foot or in a vehicle, including areas that appear to have only inches of water. Protecting yourself today means having sources for information, preparing your home or workplace, developing an emergency communications plan, and knowing what to do when a flood is approaching your home or business. Taking action today can save lives and property. Know your flood risk. Move costly possessions and important documents – shift valuables and electrical goods off the floor for their own protection, ideally upstairs. SERVPRO recommends the following steps to protect you, your family, and your home.
- Protect furnishing – Small pieces of furniture, rugs, and draperies can be moved upstairs if flooding looks likely.
- Stock up on sandbags – Use sandbags to block doorways, as these will help you fight the flooding and protect your home.
- Protect Irreplaceables – Items of sentimental value, such as photos, should be packed in waterproof containers or bags and put somewhere safe, ideally upstairs. No amount of insurance money can bring these back, so put them out of harm’s way.
- List important contacts – write down important numbers such as your home insurance provider and policy number.
- Keep informed – Watch the weather forecast to keep up-to-date on any threats
SERVPRO is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Whether you need emergency flood damage restoration or top-to-bottom home cleaning, you can trust us to make your house feel like home again. We have the training, experience, and equipment to quickly get your home looking its best.
Energy Saving Tips for the Colder Months
The strategies below will help you save energy, save money, and stay comfortable during the cool fall and cold winter months. Some of the tips below are free and can be used on a daily basis to increase your savings; others are simple and inexpensive actions you can take to ensure maximum savings through the McLean winter.
Take Advantage of Heat from the Sun
Open curtains on your south-facing windows during the day to allow sunlight to naturally heat your home, and close them at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows.
Cover Drafty Windows
Use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Make sure the plastic is sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration. Install tight-fitting, insulating drapes or shades on windows that feel drafty after weatherizing.
Adjust the Temperature
When you are home and awake, set your thermostat as low as is comfortable. When you are asleep or out of the house, turn your thermostat back 10° to 15° for eight hours and save around 10% a year on your heating and cooling bills. If you have a heat pump, maintain a moderate setting or use a programmable thermostat specially designed for use with heat pumps.
Find and Seal Leaks
Seal the air leaks around utility cut-throughs for pipes ("plumbing penetrations"), gaps around chimneys and recessed lights in insulated ceilings, and unfinished spaces behind cupboards and closets. Add caulk or weather stripping to seal air leaks around leaky doors and windows.
Maintain Your Heating Systems
Replace your filter once a month or as needed for furnaces and heat pumps. Wood- and Pellet-Burning Heaters need to have the flue vent cleaned regularly and the inside of the appliance cleared out with a wire brush periodically to ensure that your building is heated efficiently.
Lower Your Water Heating Costs
Turn down the temperature of your water heater to the warm setting (120°F). You'll not only save energy, you'll avoid scalding your hands.
Spring Storm Safety for McLean
Be Aware of the Weather Conditions
The most important thing you can do is to stay aware of weather conditions in the areas that you will be traveling. Tune into the local radio stations, watch the weather channel, or go to weather-related websites that will cover the area along your route. Awareness is essential part of spring storm safety, not only during tornado season, but during the winter as well, when snow and ice can make the roads a serious danger. Staying informed of any potential for severe weather will help you plan a safe route.
Stay Out (or Get Out) of the Danger Zone
If you can, stay away from any potential dangerous weather by planning your route accordingly. If your route goes through an area that shows a potential for storms, check the map and find a route that helps you avoid the situation entirely. If your destination is in the area of the storm, see if you can leave early to miss the storm or wait it out until the potential for hazardous weather has passed. It may not always be possible, but being proactive and avoiding the hazardous conditions altogether is the best way to stay safe during storms and tornadoes.
Stay Away from Overpasses!
If you do find yourself in a storm, never go for the myth of hiding under an overpass. For years, drivers believed this is one of the best places to wait out a storm, but in fact it’s one of the worst. Overpasses can become wind-tunnels, interacting with a tornado to create even more powerful winds. Stay away from overpasses, whether you’re in your cab or on the ground. Which brings us to another topic: whether or not to leave your truck...
Should I Stay or Should I Go?
This topic is highly-debated among truckers in the industry. Some swear by staying in your cab, while others advocate leaving the truck and seeking low ground like a ditch or valley. It seems the best answer depends on the situation itself. Sometimes, it may be best to stay put and let the cab be your shelter, while other situations call for leaving the truck. However, if there is real shelter nearby, like a building or home, this option is always better than staying in your truck or hiding in a ditch.
Benefits of Staying in the Truck
Inside your cab, the truck will act as your shelter, protecting you from hail, lightning, and debris. Keep your seatbelt on, as this will protect you if the winds become strong enough to overturn your vehicle. You should also crouch below the line of the windshield to protect yourself from flying debris.
Benefits of Getting Out
Getting out and hiding in a ditch puts you below the strongest winds and flying debris. If winds hit your truck hard enough, it could overturn, in which case you will be thankful you’re not inside. If you choose to get out, make sure you are far enough away from the truck in case it is pushed over.
In the end, it really comes down to being informed and aware. The #1, undisputed spring storm safety tip for truckers is to avoid the severe weather altogether. Yes, you need to do your job and be a dependable trucker, but taking risks with your life just to make your delivery is simply not worth it.
No reasonable person will be upset with you because you chose to avoid severe weather. In fact, most people will applaud your regard for safety.
Safe Flood Clean-up Tips
Before entering a building where flood damage may have occurred, make sure it’s safe.
Check for electrical hazards and structural damage, and use proper protective gear like boots, gloves, and respirators. Before you start any construction or repairs, check for common hazardous materials like lead paint and asbestos, which may require help from professional and State-licensed contractors.
Then, follow these tips:
- Act quickly
The severity of damage escalates the longer water dwells and building components and contents stay wet, so time is of the essence in the aftermath of a flood. In fact, mold will grow within 48-72 hours, so aim to start removing water and drying the environment within 48 hours. Have a list of professionals on hand to call, and understand your insurance policy, as some only cover mold damage up to a certain amount, while others don’t provide any reimbursement for mold.
- Ventilate affected areas to prevent mold growth
Mold loves moisture and organic materials such as paper or particleboard. In order to mitigate or slow damage, open windows if weather permits and place fans inside of them to keep air moving and maintain moderate temperatures. Work toward the fan as you clean to minimize cross contamination.
- Assess damage to items and materials
Assess the type of water absorbed by items, such as rainwater, water from broken pipes, contaminated river water or bacteria-filled sewage. There are ways to salvage specialty items but the decision on whether to save or dispose of an item will vary depending on the dollar and sentimental value to the owner. It may not be worthwhile to salvage drywall, carpets and pads, mattresses, pillows, box springs and particleboard. On the other hand, it might be worthwhile to restore costly Persian rugs, leather couches, and antiques or heirlooms. Wet clothing and many household fabrics may be salvageable through machine washing, and a 10-minute soak in detergent and hot water, to remove contamination and stains. The IICRC strongly recommends that in water damages where there are contaminants present (e.g., bacteria, sewage, mold) or where small children or immune-compromised individuals are present that an inspection be conducted by an appropriately trained restorer and remediator.
- Expose pockets of saturation
Hidden and concealed pockets of saturation need to be opened for cleaning and drying. Layers between building materials hold water that must be discovered and removed or dried. On walls, find the water line and inspect at least a foot beyond it to make sure all damage, wet materials and mold are discovered. Remove and discard the damaged drywall and wet wall insulation. Wet carpets can usually be dried by professionals with the right equipment, but carpet padding, which is like a big sponge, should be discarded. Wood base trim and hardwood can also be saved with the right equipment if they can be accessed and completely dried on both sides. Remember to investigate concealed cavities such as behind walls, in mechanical spaces, under cabinets and furniture, and in crawl spaces.
- Conduct a thorough cleaning
Durable, non-porous or semi-porous materials, such as studs and joists, hardwood flooring and vinyl products, can be cleaned with common cleaning products or specialized products with detergents. During cleaning, take care to protect areas that are unaffected by the water or mold. After a thorough cleaning of salvageable materials, a disinfectant solution may need to be applied in case of harmful bacteria from sewage, river water debris or even standing water that has gone bad. Professionals like SERVPRO® professionals and indoor environmental professionals can help you decide what is best for your situation. Once you’ve cleaned the wet materials, conduct another round of cleaning. If you choose to vacuum, use a HEPA-filter vacuum to remove allergens, fine dust and spores.
- Confirm drying before reconstruction
In order to prevent dry rot and structural damage, it’s important not to reconstruct or cover wood and other wet materials until the moisture content has been adequately reduced. SERVPRO® professionals can confirm proper drying before reconstruction.
When Lightning Strikes in McLean
Each year thousands of home and other properties are destroyed or damaged by lightning strikes.
The first step to protecting your home is contacting a professional who is qualified to design and install a certified lightning protection system. It will be designed to control or force the discharge onto a specified path, thereby eliminating the chance of fire or explosion within non-conductive parts of the house such as those made of wood, brick, tile, etc. A lightning protection system is not intended to prevent a strike. Its purpose is to provide a safe path on which the current can be safely directed to the ground.
A typical lightning protection system
A complete system is made up of the following components:
- Air terminals: Also referred to as lightning rods, these inconspicuous copper or aluminum rods are vertically mounted on the roof at regular intervals. The air terminals serve as strike receptors, designed to intercept the lightning strike.
- Main conductors: Constructed of aluminum or copper, these braided cables connect the air terminals to the other system components and the grounds.
- Grounds: A minimum of two ground rods, driven at least 10 feet deep in the earth are required for all structures. The ground terminations direct the dangerous current into the ground, to eliminate the chance of injury or damage to the structure.
- Bonds: Bonding joins metallic bodies (roof components) and grounded building systems to the main conductor to ensure conductivity and prevent side flashing (lightning jumping between two objects).
- Surge arresters and suppressors: A surge is an increase in electrical current due to a lightning strike on or near a power line or utility service. Surge suppression is installed at the electrical panel(s) to prevent the entrance of over-voltages which can cause a fire. Arresters installed at electrical panels help protect heavy appliances and prevent fires at service panel entrances. Additional devices may be needed to protect other in-house electronics. Surge protection devices are typically installed in conjunction with a lightning protection system.
- Tree protection: The Lightning Protection Institute recommends that any tree taller than a home or within 10 feet of the structure be equipped with a lightning protection system. Trees do not offer protection and many homeowners choose to have trees protected for their own value. An unprotected tree in close proximity to a structure can also create a side-flash hazard to the nearby home.
Be Prepared if You're in a Flood Zone
When a Flood is Imminent
- Be prepared! Pack a bag with important items in case you need to evacuate. Don't forget to include needed medications.
- If advised to evacuate your home, do so immediately.
- If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground.
- If possible, bring in outdoor furniture and move essential items to an upper floor.
- Turn off utilities at the main switches or valves if instructed to do so. Disconnect electrical appliances.
During a Flood
- Do not walk through moving water. As little as 6 inches (15 centimeters) of moving water can make you fall.
- If you have to walk in water, wherever possible, walk where the water is not moving. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
- Do not drive into flooded areas. If floodwaters rise around your car, abandon the car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
- Do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
After a Flood
- Listen for news reports to learn whether the community's water supply is safe to drink.
- Avoid floodwaters; water may be contaminated by oil, gasoline, or raw sewage. Water may also be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines.
- Avoid moving water.
- Be aware of areas where floodwaters have receded. Roads may have weakened and could collapse under the weight of a car.
- Stay away from downed power lines, and report them to the power company.
- Return home only when authorities indicate it is safe.
- Stay out of any building if it is surrounded by floodwaters.
- Service damaged septic tanks, cesspools, pits, and leaching systems as soon as possible. Damaged sewage systems are serious health hazards.
- Clean and disinfect everything that got wet. Mud left from floodwater can contain sewage and chemicals.
Hot Tips for Extreme Cold
Extreme cold weather can be hard on both you and your home. Here are some tips to put into practice when freezing weather, snow, and ice hit your area.
How to Deal with Frozen Pipes
- Disconnect and drain garden hoses before the freezing temperatures hit.
- Cover outside faucets with insulating foam covers.
- Turn off water to outside faucets, if available, and open valves on faucets to allow them to drain.
- Turn off sprinkler system and blow compressed air through the lines to drain them.
- Close or cover foundation vents under house and windows to basements.
- Close garage doors.
- Insulate exposed pipes (both hot and cold) under house with foam pipe insulation.
- Open cabinet doors under sinks.
- Drip hot and cold faucets in kitchen and bath. Drip single control faucets with lever set in middle.
- Set ice maker to make ice if the water line to it runs under the house.
- Don’t forget to check on pipes to your washing machine in the laundry room.
- Locate water main cut-off valve, and have a cut-off key handy.
- Use a hair dryer, heat lamp, electric heat tape, or a portable space heater to thaw frozen pipes that have not burst.
- Keep the faucet open when thawing frozen pipes to allow water to begin flowing through it.
- After the weather has warmed above freezing and any frozen pipes have thawed, turn off dripping faucets and monitor your water meter to check for unseen leaks.
How to Keep Warm in Your Home
- Have your furnace inspected before cold weather arrives. Inspect the heat exchanger for cracks, install a clean air filter, and check the thermostat to see if it’s working properly.
- Inspect fireplaces and chimneys before using, and have them cleaned if needed.
- Keep drapes and blinds closed, except when windows are in direct sunlight.
- Put up storm windows, or install sheet plastic window insulation kits on the inside of windows.
- Cover or remove any window air conditioners.
- Insulate electrical outlets and switches on exterior walls with foam seals available at home centers.
- Caulk any cracks or holes on the outside of your house.
- Repair or replace weather stripping and thresholds around doors and windows.
- Run paddle ceiling fans on low in reverse (clockwise when looking up) to circulate warm air.
- Put draft snakes on window sills, between window frames, and against doors.
- If you heat with propane or fuel oil, make sure the tank is full.
- If you heat with wood or coal, have plenty of fuel on hand.
How to Protect the Outside of Your Home
- Spray an ice repellent solution on steps and walks before freezing weather arrives.
- Check antifreeze levels in cars. Add if needed, then run the engine to circulate the new antifreeze through the radiator and engine block.
- Add freeze resistant windshield wiper fluid, and spray to circulate it in lines.
- Check air pressure in tires, since cold weather causes the pressure to lower.
- Bring in container plants, add mulch around plants, and cover plants that are prone to frost damage. Remove covering when temperatures warm above freezing.
- Drain birdbaths and fountains.
- Gently sweep snow off plants and shrubs in an upward motion with a broom.
- Use rock salt, sand, or clay based kitty litter on walks and drives (NOTE: Salt can damage grass and other plants).
- Don’t overdo it when using a snow shovel. Physical activity is harder on your body during freezing temperatures.
- Clean your gutters and downspouts before cold weather arrives to prevent ice from forming in them.
- Stay off your roof during freezing weather, but once the ice and snow have melted, inspect your roof for any damage.
Tornado Watch Vs Warning
During recent years, the spate of historic severe weather systems, flooding and tornadoes affecting much of the Nation has impacted rural America significantly. A storm is any disturbed state of an environment or astronomical body's atmosphere especially affecting its surface, and strongly implying severe weather.
Tornado Watch - Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. Review and discuss your emergency plans, and check supplies and your safe room. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued or you suspect a tornado is approaching. Acting early helps to save lives!
Tornado Warning - A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. Tornado warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property. Go immediately under ground to a basement, storm cellar or an interior room (closet, hallway or bathroom).
Hurricane Preparedness in Northern Virginia
WHAT IS A HURRICANE?
Hurricanes are massive storm systems that form over warm ocean waters and move toward land. Potential threats from hurricanes include powerful winds, heavy rainfall, storm surges, coastal and inland flooding, rip currents, tornadoes, and landslides. The Atlantic hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30. The Pacific hurricane season runs May 15 to November 30. Hurricanes:Can happen along any U.S. coast or in any territory in the Atlantic or Pacific oceans.Can affect areas more than 100 miles inland.Are most active in September.
IF YOU ARE UNDER A HURRICANE WARNING, FIND SAFE SHELTER RIGHT AWAYDetermine how best to protect yourself from high winds and flooding.Evacuate if told to do so.Take refuge in a designated storm shelter, or an interior room for high winds.Listen for emergency information and alerts.Only use generators outdoors and away from windows.Turn Around, Don’t Drown! Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters.
Prepare NOWKnow your area’s risk of hurricanes.Sign up for your community’s warning system. The Emergency Alert System (EAS) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Weather Radio also provide emergency alerts.If you are at risk for flash flooding, watch for warning signs such as heavy rain.Practice going to a safe shelter for high winds, such as a FEMA safe room or ICC 500 storm shelter. The next best protection is a small, interior, windowless room in a sturdy building on the lowest level that is not subject to flooding.Based on your location and community plans, make your own plans for evacuation or sheltering in place.Become familiar with your evacuation zone, the evacuation route, and shelter locations.Gather needed supplies for at least three days. Keep in mind each person’s specific needs, including medication. Don’t forget the needs of pets.Keep important documents in a safe place or create password-protected digital copies.Protect your property. Declutter drains and gutters. Install check valves in plumbing to prevent backups. Consider hurricane shutters. Review insurance policies.
Summer Storm Safety
Summer arrived with greenery and colorful flowers. However, the season can also bring severe weather. The American Red Cross wants everyone to know what steps they can take to stay safe if dangerous weather is predicted for their community.
Summer can be the peak season for tornado activity. Tornadoes occur mostly on warm days between 3:00 and 9:00 p.m. However, tornadoes can occur anywhere, at any time of the year, at any time of the day. The Red Cross has safety steps people should take now to be ready if a tornado warning is issued for someone’s neighborhood:Know your community’s warning system.Pick a safe room in your home where family members can gather if a tornado is headed your way. This should be a basement, storm cellar or interior room on the lowest floor with no windows.Prepare for strong winds by removing diseased and damaged limbs from trees.Move or secure lawn furniture, trash cans, hanging plants or anything else that can be picked up by the wind and become a projectile.Know the tornado danger signs – dark, often greenish clouds, a wall cloud, cloud of debris, large hail, a funnel cloud or a roaring noise.
Thunderstorms are most likely to happen in the spring and summer, during the afternoon and evening. However, like tornadoes, they can happen anywhere, at any hour of the day. Every thunderstorm produces lightning, which kills more people every year that tornadoes or hurricanes. The Red Cross has steps you can take if a thunderstorm is predicted for your area:If thunder roars, go indoors. If you can hear thunder, you are close enough to be in danger from lightning.Watch for storm signs like darkening skies, flashes of lightning or increasing winds.Postpone any outdoor activities. Many people who are struck by lightning are not where it is raining.Take shelter in a substantial building or a vehicle with the windows closed. Shutter windows and close outside doors securely. Stay away from windows.Do not take a bath, shower or use plumbing.
Summer can be a time of year for flooding. Communities in the Midwest and south have already seen floodwaters inundate neighborhoods. Snow melt and heavy spring rains fill rivers and streams and flooding can occur. Flash floods occur suddenly when water rises rapidly along a stream or low-lying area. People should be prepared to evacuate at a moment’s notice and head for higher ground when a flood or flash flood warning is issued. Other safety steps includeStay away from floodwaters. If you come upon a flowing stream where water is above your ankles, stop, turn around and go another way. Six inches of swiftly moving water can sweep you off of your feet.If you come upon a flooded road while driving, turn around and go another way. If you are caught on a flooded road and waters are rising rapidly around you, get out of the car quickly and move to higher ground. Most cars can be swept away by less than two feet of moving water.Keep children out of the water. They are curious and often lack judgment about running water or contaminated water.Be especially cautious at night when it is harder to recognize flood danger.
What to do After a Winter Storm
You might be ready for the next winter storm, but after it hits, what is next?
Here are some tips:Continue listening to local news for updated information and instructions. Access to some parts of the community may be limited or roads may be blocked.Avoid driving and other travel until conditions have improved.Avoid overexertion. Heart attacks from shoveling heavy snow are a leading cause of death during the winter.Check on your animals and ensure that their access to food and water is unimpeded by drifted snow, ice, or other obstacles.If you are using a portable generator, take precautions against carbon monoxide poisoning, electrocution and fire.
Frostbite and hypothermia are cold-related emergencies that may quickly become life or limb threatening.
Take these steps to avoid frostbite and hypothermia:Be aware of the wind chill. Dress appropriately and avoid staying in the cold too long. Wear a hat and gloves when appropriate with layers of clothing. Avoid unnecessary exposure of any part of the body to the cold.Drink plenty of warm fluids or warm water but avoid caffeine and alcohol. Stay active to maintain body heat.Take frequent breaks from the cold.Get out of the cold immediately if the signals of hypothermia or frostbite appear.