Thursday, May 19, 2016

Flood Prevention

 

Flood prevention and safety


Almost anywhere it rains, it can flood. Even if you live in an area of that you think isn’t at risk, preparation is just as critical as with other types of emergencies.
 
Before we get into how you can prevent, limit or react to flooding, it’s important to note that flood damage is typically not covered by your homeowners or renters insurance. There are specialized flood insurance programs that we at Hummel Insurance Services can discuss with you. Just contact us at 712-482-6424 or info@hummelins.com for more information if you live in Iowa or Nebraska.
 

Preparing for a flood


The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends a number of steps to stay safe during emergencies and limit damage from flooding. You should:
  • Build an emergency kit for your family containing such items as drinking water and nonperishable food for each member of your family (two-week supply), flashlights,  a radio, extra batteries, a first-aid kit, necessary medications, personal hygiene items and copies of important documents.
  • Create a communication plan so family members can reach one another.
  • Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home if live in an area with a high flood risk.
  • Consider installing “check valves” to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • If possible, construct barriers to stop floodwater from entering your home and seal basement walls with waterproofing compounds.

Acting during a flood


If a flood is likely in your area, quick action may be necessary to protect your family and property. You should:
  • Get information from the radio or television.
  • Move immediately to higher ground if there is any possibility of a flash flood. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • If you need to evacuate, secure your home and move essential items to an upper floor. Turn off utilities if instructed to do so, and disconnect electrical appliances. However, do not touch electrical equipment if you are wet or standing in water.
  • Do not walk through moving water — it can make you fall. Use a stick to check the firmness of the ground in front of you.
  • Do not drive into flooded areas. If you are caught in your vehicle in floodwater, abandon your car and move to higher ground if you can do so safely.
  • If you have evacuated your home, do not return until authorities tell you it is safe.

Coping after a flood


Flooding can cause emotional stress along with physical hazards, so be mindful of the well-being of you and your family during the aftermath.
  • Floodwater can be contaminated by oil, gasoline or sewage, so avoid contact as much as possible.
  • Make sure your city’s water supply is safe to drink.
  • Clean and disinfect everything that was in contact with floodwater.
  • The Red Cross has a free book available called “Repairing Your Flooded Home,” which contains useful information as you clean up. It’s available at www.redcross.org. Of course, don’t hesitate to contact us as well — we’re ready to help!
  • If you have flood insurance, contact the claims center of your provider as soon as possible.
 
Flooding is one of the most common hazards in the U.S. Being prepared for any emergency is crucial for the safety of you and your family. Don’t be caught off guard!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Spring Home Maintenance

Spring Maintenance for Your Home

When springtime rolls around in Iowa and Nebraska, almost everyone thinks of cleaning. That’s fine (we probably all need to do a little more of that, after all), but there’s something even more important to keep in mind: home maintenance.

So, now that we've all set our clocks ahead for daylight-saving time and changed the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, give your home a checkup, too. Here are some suggestions from the Department of Housing and Urban Development:

Interior and appliances
  • Ceck the basement and/or crawlspace for any signs of standing water or dripping.
  • Pull your dryer out and clean the exhaust hose and vent (lint found here is a common cause of house fires).
  • Vacuum refrigerator/freezer coils for efficiency.
  • Clean exhaust fan outlets and screens.
  • Check all air filters and replace, if necessary.

Roof, siding, windows
  • Check for damage to your roof and have a professional inspection, if necessary. 
  • Go into the attic. If there is visible moisture or discoloration, your roof might be leaking.
  • Examine the paint on your siding and trim. If it is peeling, you might need new paint to protect against the effects of weather. 
  • Check for leaks around window and door sills. Improving your seals can lower your energy bills.

Yard and exterior

  • Check for signs of rodents and other pests.
  • Clean debris from gutters and downspouts, and make sure they are draining away from the home.
  • Trim overhanging tree branches and shrubs.


Remember, winter weather can cause significant damage that is easy to spot, but it often results in wear and tear that homeowners can miss if they aren’t looking closely. It’s well worth it to spend a little time on home maintenance this spring, so that wear and tear doesn’t turn into something more serious.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Drone Safety



5 Dos and Don’ts of Flying a Drone

Drones are exploding in popularity in the Midwest, and so are the news stories about someone flying too close to a commercial aircraft or shooting down a drone. These are real incidents, but with these five dos and don’ts of drone operation, you don’t have to experience one.  
  1. Do know your drone — and your capabilities. Practice your maneuvering skills, including safe landings, in an open field or empty parking lot. You could even join a local club to learn how to fly. Once you do, be sure to stay away from people, wildlife, public events and, yes, your neighbor’s pool party.
  2. Don’t forget to register your drone. In the eyes of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), your drone isn’t a toy. It’s an Unmanned Aircraft System, one you need to register with the agency.
  3. Don’t fly above 400 feet or within 5 miles of an airport. If you do, you’ll violate FAA guidelines. Though flying near an airport may be possible after first obtaining clearance from the facility and control tower.
  4. Do get authorization for commercial use. If you use a drone for commercial purposes, such as taking photos for your real-estate business, you must get FAA authorization first. Just using a drone for personal recreation? No authorization required.
  5. Do understand the risks. Drones can weigh up to 55 pounds, so there’s the potential for them to cause some serious damage – damage for which you might be liable. However, not all homeowners insurance policies provide liability coverage for hobby or model aircraft. Give us a call to find out what kind of coverage you might have.
Hey, we get it. Drones are affordable, fun to fly and have a number of interesting uses, such as aerial photography. Just remember to be smart and safe while yours is in the sky. And, if you’re being impacted by someone else’s drone use, it’s best to talk it through. Because we here at Hummel Insurance Services don’t want to see you on the local news!